tv IRS Commissioner John Koskinen Testifies on Capitol Hill CSPAN September 27, 2016 1:25am-4:59am EDT
the centers for disease control and the government accountability office. watch live tuesday at 2:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 3. next irs commissioner john koskinen testifies on the alleged misconduct at the irs specifically related to the investigation into unfair targeting of conservative non-profit groups. democrats expressed objection
and many used their time to ask questions on potential misuse of charity funds by donald trump. held in front of the house judiciary committee, this is three and a half hours. >> welcome, everyone, to this morning's hearing on the impeachment articles on john koskinen part 3. i will recognize myself for an opening statement. the constitution sets forth a system of checks and balances, which grants each branch of government tools to ensure that no one branch of government obtains too much power. the legislative branch's tools include the power to write the laws shs the power of the purse, the impeachment power, the power to sen sure, among others. they exert oversight over the judicial branches inclouding rooting out corruption, fraud and abuse by government officials and taking further disciplinary action on behalf of the american people when warranted. the duty to serve as a check on
the other branches including against corruption and abuse is a solemn one and congress does not and must not take this responsibility lightly. that is why this committee has schedule d this hearing today. in 2013 the american people first learned that their own government had been singling out conservative groups for heightened review by the irs as they applied for tax exempt status. this irs targeting scandal was nothing short of shocking. it was a political plan to silence the voices of groups representing millions of americans, conservative. groups across the nation who are impacted by this targeting resulting in lengthy paperwork requirements. overly burdensome information requests and long unwarranted delays in their applications. in the wake of this scandal, then irs official lois lerner stepped down from her position, but questions remain about the
scope of the abuses by the irs. the allegations of misconduct against mr. koskinen are serious. volumes of information crucial into the investigation of the targeting scandal were destroyed. before the tapes were destroyed, congressional demands including subpoenas about the targeting scandal went unanswered and were not complied with. mr. koskinen provided testimony concerning irs efforts to provide nofgs congress. these are very serious allegations of misconduct. in committee has taken these allegations seriously. over the past several months, this committee has poured through thousands of pages of information produced by the investigation into this matter. on may 24, this committee held a hearing at which the house oversight and government reform
committee formerly presented its findings and evidence to the members of this committee. then on june 22, this committee held a second hearing to allow outside experts to assess and comment on the evidence presented to the committee at its may 24, 2016, hearing. and the options for a congressional response. today we hold a third hearing and hear from mr. koskinen himself. it's now pli pleasure to recognize the gentleman from michigan for his opening statement. >> thank you, chairman. i want to thank commissioner koskinen for joining us under these unusual circumstances. last week a handful of my colleagues attempted to force a vote on your impeachment and when it appeared that they would
fall short of the necessary votes, that effort was abandoned and this hearing was scheduled instead. i hope that my colleagues now see what i see when i look back at the history of impeachment in the house of representatives, which we all have an obligation to do. no matter how we feel about a. particular official, no matter what we think of his or her agency, successful impeachments are bipartisan efforts and partisan attacks cloaked in the impeachment process are doomed from the start. mr. chairman, the effort to impeach commissioner koskinen is december tinned to fail on both the merits and matter of process. and if they somehow force this measure to the floor again, i
fear it will set a terrible precedent. on the merits, the commissioner's critics simply have not proved their case. in fact, every other investigation to have examined these facts have refuted the charges against commissioner koskinen. the senate finance committee in a report that serves as the only bipartisan account of the matter found no evidence that the commissioner had intent to mislead congress at any time. the department of justice found, and i quote, found no evidence that any irs official acted based on political discrimination, corrupt or other inappropriate motives, end
quotation. and quote again, no evidence that any official attempted to obstruct justice, end quotation. the treasury inspector general for tax administration again found no evidence to show that irs employees had been directed to destroy or hide information from congress. despite the findings, some members continue to insist that the commissioner ordered, quote, ordered 24,000 e-mails erased before congress could review them, end quotation marks. citing sooe e row evidence to back the claim independent fact checkers graded this statement as categorically false. there's simply no evidence that the commissioner has acted with
intentional bad faith in his leadership of the internal revenue service. but even if there were some evidence of wrong doing, the push to impeach the commissioner on the house floor without even basic due process in the committee is wildly misguided. according to paroltarians of the house past and present, the impeachment process does not begin until the house actually votes to authorize this committee to investigate the charges. in other words, this is not an impeachment hearing. merely including the word impeachment in the title doesn't do the job at all. and at an actual impeachment hearing, the commissioner would be represented by council and
he'd have the right to present evidence, the right to question the evidence presented against him. in this case by contrast, the commission has been denied access to the transcripts of interviews conducted by the house oversight committee. even though we are told that those transcripts were key in form iing the charges against h. i'm not alone in being skeptical of short process or in noting the importance of a full and independent investigation by this committee. only after 9 house conducted a
detail ed investigation will committee members be able to consider whether other articles of impeachment might be warranted, end quotation. in 2010, mr. chairman, you expressed confidence in our impeachment task force because it had conducted and exhaustive investigation. that investigation included in your words, quote, reviewing the records of past proceedings rooting out new evidence that was never considered in previous investigations, conducting numerous interviews and depositions with firsthand witnesses and conducting hearings to take the testimony of firsthand witnesses and scholars, end. quotation marks. all of that process is missing here. yes, we have it within our power
to skip these steps, but what kind of precedence does that set? never in the history of this body have we impeached a government official without first proving that he has acted in deliberate bad faith. never in modern practice have we declined to provide the accused with the most basic due process, the right to counsel, the right to present evidence and the right to question the evidence against him. if the commissioner's krcritics have their way, i fear we will have a new rule going forward. the house may impeach any government official for any reason without supplying evidence of deliberate wrong doing, without an independent
investigation, and without regard to basic fairness towards the accused. forcing a vote in this manner will certainly not result to the removal of the commissioner. even if his critics succeed here, senators of both parties have already stated their intent to bury the matter. in the process, i fear we will have stripped our responsibilities of their weight and dignity and turned impeachment from a constitutional check of last resort into a tune of political convenience. and i cannot accept that and none of us should. commissioner koskinen, thank you for your willingness to be here today. stick to the law and the facts and you'll be fine. i yield back, mr. chairman, and i thank you.
>> the chair thanks the gentleman. all other members opening statements will be made a part of the record. we welcome our distinguished witness. if you'd please rise, i'll begin by swearing you in. do you swear that the testimony you're about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god? thank you. let the record show that the witness answered in the affirmative. commissioner john koskinen was sworn in as the 48th commissioner on december 23, 2013. prior to his appointment, mr. koskinen served for freddie macfrom 2008 to 2012. previously koskinen served as president of the u.s. soccer foundation, deputy mayor and city administrator of
washington, d.c., assistant to the president and chair of the president's council on year 2000 conversion, and deputy director of the office for the management at the office of management and budget. he holds a law degree from yale university of law and a bachelors degree from duke university. mr. koskinen, your entire testimony will be made a part of the record and ask that you summarize your testimony in five minutes. your written statement, as i said, will be made a part of the record. please help us. we have a lot of members with a lot of questions to ask. >> thank you. good morning, chairman, rank in member conyers, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to answer questions here today. i understand the extraordinary responsibilities entrusted to this committee. i appreciate both your willingness to hear from me and the serious and fair-minded approach you have taken.
is that counted as my time? thanks. i'll do my best today to answer your questions and i'm committed to full cooperation. i recognize the obligation all public servants share to be responsive to congress to the best of our abilities. that means listening and responding to feedback and criticism, acknowledging muscle takes and working diligently to improve. let me note at the outset how much i deeply regret our inability to bring the c-4 issue to a close in a way that satisfies all americans and members of congress. i understand the level of suspicion and distrust caused by the irs's failure to properly handle welfare u status based
solely on the names of the organization. i took this job in large part to help restore confidence in the irs and to ensure that the agency never returned to the unacceptable practices that had occurred before i arrived. i believe we made real progress during my tenure in ending the practices that rise to the concern, addressing operational weaknesses, creating a culture of risk management and working to reassure taxpayers that our tax system treats taxpayers fairly. the tax system only works if taxpayers are confident that the irs will troet them fairly and that it doesn't make any difference who they are, what organization or political party they belong to, or whom they voted for in the last election. this is an important principle to us at the irs and no one in addition should have to wait e years for an answer to a question or request of any kind. congress also has a right to expect that reforms to restore
the public's trust in a nonpartisan and effective irs will be implemented fully. i have devoted my energies to that goal and real progress has been made in implementing all his recommendations. for instance, the irs eliminated the use of the be on the lookout or bolo list that resulted in the improper scrutiny of a number of applicants described in the may 2013 report. the irs has also expedited approval process for organizations that experience delays in the processing of their applications. continuing our efforts to restore public confidence in the irs, we'll remain my top priority every day that i'm fortune enough to continue to serve. i also understand there are significant remaining questions on the minds of some members
about the irs response to congressional inquiries on my watch. i stand ready to answer these questions today. i responded honestly and in good faith, particularly in response to the discovery that lois lerner's hard drive had crashed in 2011. from the start i directed staff to cooperate fully with congress and to recover lost information wherever possible. and i testified to the best of my knowledge. but the truth is we did not succeed in preserving all the information requested and some of my testimony later proved mistaken. i regret both of those failings. i can also tell you that with the benefit of hindsight, even closer communication with congress would have been advisable. but my commitment is and always has been to tell you and all committees of the congress the truth and to address issues head on. i accept that it is up to you to judge my overall record, but i believe that impeachment would be improper.
it would create disincentives for good people to serve. i appreciate the opportunity to be here and look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you, commissioner. we will now proceed under the five-minute rule with questions and i will begin by recognizing myself. the report of investigation by the treasury inspector general for tax administration concludes in its 2015 report regarding congressional requests for e-mails that, and i quote, the investigation revealed that the irs did not put forth an effort to uncover additional e-mails. none of the irs employees involved had been asked prior to the june 30, 2014, request to find any backup tapes or the server hard drives associated with the ncfb exchange 2003 server, which would have contained responsive lerner e e-mails. the investigation determined
that if the irs would have conducted a search for the existence of backup tapes, they would have found the necessary backup tapes that contained lerner's missing e-mails prior to when those tapes were in march 2014, unquote. mr. koskinen, is there anything inaccurate in that finding of the treasury inspector general? and if so, what is inaccurate about it? >> nothing inaccurate in that. i'd be happy to explain, but the report is accurate. >> do you believe it was the duty of the commissioner to as the treasury inspector general for tax administration stated put forth an effort to uncover additional responsive e-mails to congress's inquiries? yes or no? >> yes. >> the report of investigation by the treasury inspector general for tax administration also concluded in its 2015 report as follows, and i quote,
the investigation reveal ed tha the backup tapes were destroyed as a result of irs management failing to ensure r that a may 22, 2013, e-mail directive from irs chief technology officer concerning the preservation of electronic e e-mail media was fully understood and followed by all of the irs employees responsible for handling and disposing of e-mail backup media. is there anything inaccurate in that finding of the treasury inspector general for tax administration? >> no. >> do you believe it was the duty of the irs commissioner to, as the treasury inspector general for tax administration stated, to ensure that a may 22, 2013, e-mail directed from technology officer concerning the preservation of electronic e-mail media was fully understood and followed by all of the irs employees responsible for handling and disposing of e-mail backup media. i'd appreciate a yes or no response to that.
>> yes, to the extent the irs has control over that. >> the official website in its section describing you, commissioner john koskinen, states he manages an agency of about 90,000 employees and a budget of $10.9 billion. you are the top manager in at the irs. when the treasury inspector general concluded that it the irs did not put forth an effort to uncover additional responsive e-mail us and the backup tapes were destroyed as a result of irs management failing, the inspector general was referring to you, the manager of the irs. is that correct? >> as the leader of the organization, i'm responsible for the management of it. there are a lot of managers there, but ultimately, any ceo, director of the organization is responsible for its operations. >> so after you received the congressional subpoena, which affirmatively required that you
protect all e-mails related to this subject, what affirmative steps did you take personally to ensure all responsive documents were preserved? >> i met with the senior executives and when i was assured that an appropriate document retention order had been put out the prior year, the woman acting as my council at the time september a follow-up memo to remind them that they ensure that all of the available information be preserved. i was assured that was being done. >> did you send anyone to different locations where e-mails are destroyed, if it you will, and instruct them not to destroy any e-mails without first going through the person's responsible for your responsible to respond to the subpoena and
say make sure that no e-mails are destroyed without further verifying that they are not related to this congressional subpoena. >> i did not personally do that. i was assured that our managers understood the impact of the document retention request your order in 2013 before i arrived and the follow up in february 2014 i was assured would make it clear to employees and managers everywhere to preserve documents. we were eight months into a massive document search so it did not seem to me everybody would understand the goal and the instruction to people were you're to produce information as quickly as we could wherever it was. >> apparently that message didn't get to the people who actually do the work of destroying e-mails. >> apparently to everyone but two employees. at the time that was revealed,
which was a year after the hearing in 2014 i said that was a mistake. it shouldn't have happened and i took responsibility for it. >> my time has expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from michigan for his questions. >> thank you, chairman goodla e goodlatte. yesterday the chairman and i received a letter from our colleagues and some 32 signatures. and i ask, mr. chairman, that this letter be made part of the record. >> without objection. >> commissioner koskinen, this letter cites the example of one of our colleagues who claims the head of the irs ordered 24,000 e e-mails erased before congress could review them. commissioner, did you order the destruction of 24,000 e-mails in
an attempt to obstruct congressional investigators? >> i did not. >> of course, you didn't. there's no zero evidence to support this claim. the letter also cites to an exchange of letters where the treasury inspector general for tax administration. mr. chairman, i ask that this letter be made a part of the record as well. >> without objection. >> in 2015 the inspector general released a report that concluded that no evidence was uncovered that any irs employees have been directed to destroy or hide information from the congress. this same conclusion was
independently reach ed by the senate finance committee and the department of justice. lst week my colleagues wrote to the inspector general to ask if he obtained any evidence whatsoever over the past year to cause his office to change its conclusion. he responded within a day. the answer was no. commissioner koskinen, to your knowledge, have any of the underlying facts changed since the senate finance committee, the department of justice and the treasury inspector general concluded that there is no evidence of your intent to mislead congress or obstruct the investigation? >> no. >> i spoke earlier about the precedent of the house, which is
always provided some basic due process to an accused official. for example, in 2010 we allowed judge to submit evidence and cross examine others. in 1996 we allowed counsel for president clinton to do the same. in 1874 this committee allowed secretary of war william beltnap the opportunity to explain, present witnesses and cross examine witnesses. but here in 2016 i understand that you have not been allowed to review the evidence against you. the oversight committee conducted over 50 tribed interviews and claimed that
those interviews were key to forming the charges against you. mr. commissioner, have you asked to review these transcripts? >> we have. >> have you been given an opportunity to review them? >> no. >> do you believe they might include evidence that clears you of any of these charges? >> i do. if there were any evidence there that i would actually indicated or told anyone to impede the operations of the congress, destroy or mislead the congress, i assume someone would have already quoted it. so i assume those 50 depositions would support the fact that i did nothing to impede the operation of the congress. i gave no instructions to anyone to do anything other than fully cooperate with the requests of the congress. >> i thank you, sir, for your testimony. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank you.
the gentleman recognizes the gentleman from texas. >> mr. chairman, this administration seems to have set a record for the number of agency heads who have wrongly deleted work-related e-mails, the number of federal employees who pled the fifth and the number of officials who have failed to respond to lawfully served subpoenas. even in this deplorable company, one agency stands out. internal revenue service targeted organizations solely on the basis of their conservative views. we expect this kind of behavior from dictatorships and totalitarian governments, not from the united states of america government. it represents a direct attack on freedom of religion -- excuse me, represents a direct attack on freedom of speech and thus an attack on our constitution and on democracy. this corruption of power continued unrestrained for several years can only lead to one conclusion.
such conduct is an abuse of office that was condoned by the administration and warrants stiff penalties. i'll yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from ohio. >> i thank the gentleman for yielding. i'm going to read from the articles of impeachment. it says on march 4th, 2014, the irs magnetically erased 422 backup tapes. is that statement true? >> yes. >> were you commissioner at the time the tapes were erased? >> yes. >> was there a subpoena in place for the information that was erased. >> yes. >> more than one? >> the subpoenas asked for specific information. the assumption is that some of that information was on those tapes. >> not the assumption. it was on those tapes. it was from the time period when the hard drive crashed. who is kate duval? >> she was serving as counsellor of the commission er. >> when e we got her bio, it said counselor to the commissioner, high profile investigations and was a member
of your senior management team. is that accurate? >> yes. >> in her deposition in front of the oversight committee, she said she learn ed on february 2nd, 2014, about lois lerner's computer crash and missing e-mails. . so on february 2nd, the counselor to the commissioner in senior management working on high profile investigations learns evidence is missing and one month later march 4th, the backup tapes that contain this evidence are destroyed. what a coincidence, mr. koskinen. one month after your top counsel learns there are missing e-mails, the backup tapes, the secondary source, the primary source is gone. a month later, the backup tapes are destroyed. here's what's also interesting. those were supposed to have been destroyed months and months beforehand. weren't that?
>> e yes, a large number of them were destroyed in 2012 and '13. >> you said this. this is testimony in front of the oversight committee. the hard drive crashed in june 2011. as a result certain e-mails could not be e retroefed. recovery tapes no longer existed. false statement. they did, but they were supposed to have been erased. they were supposed to have been erased actually two years prior to the date that they were. but they somehow survived. they somehow survived and then exactly one month, 30 days after your top counselor kate duval learns that the primary source, the e-mails are missing, these backup tapes that survived for two years suddenly get destroyed and we're supposed to believe that was a coincidence? that just happened by chance? >> the inspector general looking a year into exactly subject and came up with the conclusion after interviewing 50 witnesses
that that was a mistake by two employees on the midnight shift in martinsburg. >> the midnight shift guys excuse. >> the i.g.'s report after a year. >> let me e read one of statements from the articles of impeachment. this is page 3, article 2. june 20th, 2014, commissioner koskinen testified, quote, since the start of this investigation, every e e-mail has been preserved, nothing has been lost, nothing has been destroyed. is that statement true? >> at the time, that was what i believed. a year -- >> whoa. it could not have been true at the time because the date is june 20th, 2014. >> that's correct. >> you just told e me on march 4th, the first question on march 4th, 2014, the irs destroyed backup tapes. >> that's correct. >> how is this statement true
that you made under oath to a congressional committee? >> the statement was not correct in light of that evidence, which i did not know. >> the statement i thought was true. it was not true on the basis of the evidence we discovered later. >> mr. chairman, this is the problem. you think about any of the folks we represent -- any of the swapts i represent in the fourth district of ohio has this same fact pattern. they lose documents and they are being audited. a month later they destroy the back up disk. and it's fine. they get away with that. this is what so many americans are frustrated about. this double standard. mr. koskinen can lose documents, destroy the backup tapes and nothing happens. any american, they are in big trouble and erbe knows it. all we're asking is this guy no longer hold this office. that's all we're asking. . in light of this fact pattern,
that's the least we can do. i yield back. >> the time has expired. the gentleman from new york is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in your opening statement, you mentioned reviewing thousands of pages of documents related to these charges. does the majority have access to the unedited transcripts of interviews conducted by the oversight committee? >> you should direct your questions to the witness. >> i'm directing my questions to the chairman. parliamentary inquiry. please stop the clock. >> we do not think so. >> you don't think the majority has access? >> why would we request that the minority at least that's your prerogative? >> i think the chair will take your request under advisement as we ascertain whether or not your question is answered in the affirmative. if so, we obviously think it should be. >> but we're going forward with
impeachment hearings that are the per view of the committee, they ought to see all the relative evidence. but that's self-evident. let me just say before i ask mr. koskinen some questions that mr. jordan's questions wasn't this true, yes. did you know it was true then, no. did you tell the truth then, yes. that fact pattern shows nothing about impeachment, obviously. all it shows is he didn't know at the time he was asked the question. mr. koskinen, thank you for being here. the senate finance committee, the department of justice and the treasury inspector general for tax administration have looked into the accusations and each has concluded there's no evidence to support these charges. critics have not made their case nor do they have the votes. these proceedings are an oven
sham. . but i do think it serves some purpose to shed some light in how you and the commissioner understand some of the work of the irs. if someone -- is there anything that would prohibit someone from releasing tax returns if they want to because they are under audit? >> no. >> thank you. now president nixon disclosed his tax returns while under audit. have the rules changed since then? >> no. >> can an individual use other people's money to enrich himself or satisfy personal debts or obligation? >> that would be personal. no tax exempt organization can use funds to benefit any insider. >> would the following factors affect the tax exemption of a foundation. . if an individual used funds from his charitable foundation to
purchase a $12,000 football helmet for himself signed by tim tebow, if an individual used $20,000 from the foundation to pay for a portrait of himself, if an individual used $100,000 of the foundation's money to cover part of a legal settlement after dispute with the municipal government or $158,000 to settle a dispute with a disgruntled participant. were any of those actions using tax exempt foundation moneys improper? would they jeopardize the tax exemption of the foundation. >> i can't comment on individual cases. >> i'd like you to answer the question, sir. >> i object the question in that it's outside the scope of the hearing. it's outside the scope and expertise of the witness. >> it's not a proper parliamentary inquiry. >> the commissioner's requested to answer it.
>> clearly, the general rules are understood that a 501-c assets should not be used to brft a major contributor or anyone operating the entity. the particular facts and circumstances of any case would need to be reviewed carefully. >> but if those were the facts that i just said, would they be improper? >> all i can tell you is that the rules are clear. it would be up to a set of people who do this regularly at the irs to investigate and make a determination as to whether, in fact, the tax exemption of that organization were still viable. >> in your opinion, if a fact pattern like this one were brought to the attention of the irs and the irs failed to investigate it, would that be a dereliction of duty or an impeachable offense? >> the commissioner does not make a determination about any audit or investigation. we get referrals, suggestions, sometimes might review urgings
to look into a wide range of activities of not only tax exempt organizations, but others, those are referred to. it's not my role to make that determination. >> one last question. at the time you were appointed by the president, why did he ask you to come out of retirement and appoint you to the head of the irs? what mission did he give you? >> i did not talk to the president personally. i talked to secretary lou, who i knew from years ago and white house personnel. the reason i was asked was obvious. the irs made a terrible management mistake. i spent. 45 years managing organizations under stress, including in the private sector and public sector. it was obvious to me just read ing the paper that there was a problem that needed to be fixed and i was honored to be asked and pleased to undertake the responsibility. >> thank you very much. my time is expired. >> the gentleman from ohio is
recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. everybody is afraid of the irs and no wonder. they u can make your life a living hell if it they want to. that's why it's so important that they play it straight. they don't play favorites or politics. back in the years leading up to barack obama's reelection in 2012, the irs did play politics. it intensely scrutinized conservative organizations, especially if they had the words tea and party in their title and refused to grant them tax exempt status. at the same time, the irs freely granted such status to liberal organizations. why would they do this? to give barack obama and his liberal allies the advantage in the upcoming election. who ordered it? lois lerner was the head of the exempt organizations unit of the irs. she ordered it. but who above her told her to do it. and did it go all the way u to
the white house. we'll never know. because she destroyed the evidence. then took the fifth and then the obama justice department refused to prosecute her and find out the answers to these important questions. in many ways, this is a lot like what hillary clinton did. she destroyed the evidence. evidence of her e-mails was sought by the fbi and by congressional committees. rather than comply, she had her e-mails destroyed and she lied about it. she even hid the devices that stored the e-mails. multiple blackberries and ipads destroyed. some with a hammer. yet the obama administration justice department refused to prosecute her too. so mr. commissioner, where do you come in? well, when the selective targeting of conservative groups by the irs story broke, president obama feigned outrage, said that targets was inexcusable and declared we needed new leadership to help
restore confidence going forward, unquote. so president obama brought you in to head the irs supposedly to clean up the mess. arguably you made matters worse. how? you testified before congressional committees on multiple occasions. you made a number of important statements before congress, which turned out to be completely false. even though you were under oath. for example, in referring to lois lerner's e-mails you stated, quote, since the start of this investigation every e-mail has been preserved. nothing has been lost. nothing has been destroyed, unquote. this turned out to be completely untrue, of course. lerner had tens of thousands of e-mails destroyed. when you learned of this, rather than inform congress, you failed to notify congress for four months. why in the world did you wait four months? >> actually, i waited two months. i was advised of this situation in april. the reason i waited is because i instructed people we needed to
find as many of the e-mails from it that period of the hard drive crash as we could. we found and produced 24,000 lois lerner e-mails from the period of the hard drive crash. we produced another 50,000 e-mails so the investigators, all six of them, had 78,000 lois lerner e-mails from the period of 2009 to 2013. >> i would submit that you had a duty to inform congress immediately when you learned that. >> i would agree. i have said that in retrospect, i would have contacted and advised congress immediately. the delay didn't change any investigation, but i can understand the aggravation it caused in some areas. if i had to do it again, i would advise the congress that the hard drive had crashed and advised of that. we were going to try to produce all the e-mails we could from that period and we actually produced 24,000. >> e let me move on. similarly, after you learned of
the destruction of lois lerner's e-mails you testify ied that th irs went to great lengths to try to resurrect her e-mails by other means. this, too, turn pd out to be false. you and the irs did very little to recover those destroy ed e-mails. in fact, experts testified that there were six ways the irs could have tried to reacquire the e-mails. you failed to look at the irs's own backup tapes and failed to look at the server, failed to look at the backup server, failed to look at the lerner laptop and even failed to look at lois lerner's blackberry. so you did little to comply with that. so let me just say this. what really makes me mad about this whole sorry episode is that the irs subpoenaed information all the time. if the average taxpayer exercised the same lack of cooperation that the irs displayed in this matter, that
taxpayer would be in a world of trouble. that taxpayer would have been prosecuted, likely convicted and spent time behind bars. but in this case, it was the obama administration's powerful irs that got caught with the hand in the cookie jar. you clammed up and took the fifth and e destroyed evidence and betrayed the country. most sadly, got away with it. my time is expired so i yield back. >> the gentleman recognizes the gentlewoman from california for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i am really astonished by some of the reckless statements that have been made this morning. but let me just go to the commissioner. you're under oath right now. you have to tell us the truth. >> yes. >> and we have had an i.g. report basically pointing out that when you testified before to a congressional committee, you told the truth, as you knew
it at the time, and later there was information that you didn't know that came out that you sent to us. is that correct? >> correct. >> my question if you were to look at the constitution article 2, section 4. it says the president and vice president and all civil officers shall be removed from office on impeachment for treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. i realize you're not here as an expert on constitutional law, but you are a lawyer and you went to a fine law school. can you tell me which element of that treason, bribery or other high crime and misdemeanor that you have committed? >> my position and that of my lawyers is i have not committed any of my crimes. but i reck these this committee has heard from constitutional expert. >> i understand that. but i think this is a trumped up type of thing.
i think it's having worked on many impeachments in the past, this doesn't even pass the smell test. this is absurd. i would like to also ask, since you're here and we're not on the financial services committee, is it within the authority of the commissioner to suspend an audit of a taxpayer during the course of a presidential campaign so that that taxpayer who felt that they were constrained in the release of their audit would then feel okay to e release it. >> the irs commissioner has no authority over any individual audit or even the determination of whether or not it should begin. i think that's appropriate. >> let me ask you whether or not -- i know that everything that the irs does is private and that the staff takes that very seriously. i think we all appreciate that.
but let me ask you this. if an audit had been terminated, would the commissioner or the agency be allowed to say publicly that there was, in fact, no audit going on of a taxpayer? >> we never would >> the status of whether they're under audit or it's included. that's all protected. >> even if there was nothing going on and somebody was lying about that, they just get away with the lie. >> we would never comment on any taxpayer's situation with regard to audits or filings. always been that information. >> i'd like to talk about whether or not if someone took money from a foreign government,
say russia, and then decided as a candidate or an elected official to go easy on our opponent, would that, if they were elected, an elected official. would that crawl into the realm and the constitution of bribery or treason? >> i'm not in a position to make a comment on that. >> well, i just think that one of the things that should concern this committee is the fact that one of our candidates for president has failed to provide transparency on his financial situation and might
use some time to explore that possibility and see if we couldn't get that candidate to do the right thing and let the american people know that he isn't compromised financially with russia. and with that i see my time has expired. >> thank you mr. chairman and i'll refrain from asking about large nonprofits that might have
inspired foreign government contribution that might have been insensitive to mrs. clinton. >> commissioner our founding fathers did consider mall administration and they decided that was too low. do you know of that from your readings? >> that's my understanding. so i want to ask very much along that. i represent camp pendleton. that's what you get fired for if you're a colonel, captain or srth or general. that includes loss of confidence of being able to do the job and failure to get your subordinates to follow your orders. failure to show the kind of obedience with rules regulations
and laws. these are two different standards. the standard between impeachment and senior office and even a sergeant in the military. and it's what actually occurred. you were under a subpoena and she assured the oversight committee that you were using every possible tool to recover them and so now the question in retrospect did you fail to use every one. did you have enough people and experts to know that the blackberry that still existed at the time of the investigation would have had many of these lost e-mails. that the servers and tapes and other documents could have been recovered as you eventually discovered.
would you say that is a failure of yours that you would have to live with? rgel no, we clearly failed. the blackberry was actually under control from 2013 on but as i have said, and every place they thought they would find you. and in his review of everything else he found a number of e-mails but those thousand e-mails, if we had the technique and the time would have been important to produce but i would remind you that we did produce a phenomenal volume of stuff and from my standpoint, my committee and order and instruction to people was to do everything possible to produce information
for the committee as fast as we could and thoroughly as we could. >> the 226 page report and action needs to be placed in the record from the oversight committee. >> that will be near part of the record. >> commissioner, you know, obviously if we had to do this over again we would all ask it be done differently but i'll use the remainder of my time to ask you a more serious question. in light of the fact that agency heads generally make the decisions about congress and and how to preserve documents and all the places in the six different areas that could have been looked and were not looked at. five of them. do you think that congress should insist on having a contact and responsible person in each agency that, in fact,
could be held accountable because they could be reasonably expected to have the authority to enforce and deliver documents on behalf of subpoenas. >> that's an interesting question but it would be helpful to reaffirm the commitment we have. we have an obligation to provide it as quickly as we can, as thoroughly as we can. it doesn't take a subpoena. that's an obligation we have to the congress any time you ask us. >> in my last few seconds louis learner was indicted under a statute that said they shall present to a grand jury and the administration failed to do that. in retrospect when the american people expect somebody be held accountable for the wrongful targeting of conservative groups
wouldn't it have gone a long way if the justice department had simply complied with the law rather than chose not to comply with the law? >> i can't speak for the justice department but i can, as you know, remind you from the commissioner on down, the acting commissioner on down all five levels of people responsible in this area are no longer with the government or the irs. they no longer have their jobs. >> thank you. i yield back. >> recognize this. >> thank you very much commissioner and let me apologize for your presence here today. i realize that you have made a commitment as a public servant and it's appropriate to apologize to you for what i believe is a nonserious effort as it relates to the constitution and impeachment criteria. let me take note of your language in your statement that says i will do my best today to
answer your question and i am committed to full cooperation. that means listening and working diligently to improve. do you still adhere to that statement in your testimony. >> i do. >> you're committed as a public servant and is that not correct. >> that is correct. chief of staff. and i fully understand and appreciate and think it's appropriate. and for them to respond as quickly as they can. >> thank you very much. >> and inspector general and tax administration found 3 points related to you commissioner. that means that you have not allowed evidence to be destroyed. at least it was not trivial to
you. do you still believe those were true about your actions as a commissioner. >> i do. let me put into the record a letter dated september 14th where a question was asked to the treasury inspector general. no evidence was uncovered that any irs employees have been directed to hide information from congress and that letter was written by two members of congress on september 14th, 2016. a letter came back from mr. russell. inspector general. >> at this time no additional information and put this in the
record. do you adhere to that record. >> do you adhere or at least understand that that is being said about irs employees that would include yourself. >> it's also important to note this is not an impeachment hearing and even though many of our members are inquiring on that matter it is not and it's also important to note that experts said we have not given you due process. i hope as we proceed to eliminate this proceeding meaning to cease and desist if we do not that you'll have due process. let me proceed with some
questions regarding the time that you have come after february 2014. what efforts have you made to be constructive and provide information to members of congress? >> across the board i have made a commitment that we will respond. i will personally respond to every letter within 30 days if at all possible and explain if not as a general manner over 90% and get a response within 90 days. we have refused to provide any information. we are anxious across the board. the irs effects every taxpayer in the country. >> >> do you think this action or that action, is will any
action that may have done so? >> as i said, it wasn't a perfect process. there are things that again in retrospect. >> when you make mistakes you owned up to it. is that correct? >> and basically there's nothing that i feel and no evidence that i have actually acted in bad faith. >> and you offered information when you found the information after the fact. it is appropriate for a foundation to give political donations out of the foundation? >> organization foundations are not allowed to participate in politics. >> i thank you very much commissioner and i believe an apology is owed to you and i believe there's no ground ifs we were to move in that direction for any form of impeachment. continue to do the good work that you're doing working on
behalf of the american people and answering questions from congress in the normal oversight responsibilities. >> the time has exconspired. >> chairman, thank you. and commissioner thank you for being here as we sit here today just bringing a little common sense to this. and the people elected by them just to fix it and i want to go on record saying i don't apologize for trying to fix it. and when i recognize that a vast majority and government that's a crisis of confidence in our government and they have a good reason to believe that and i don't apologize for asking how to fix that. when i see gag orders issued by the pentagon where they don't even allow individuals over there to testify or meet with members of congress.
we see evidence being destroyed and misrepresentation of facts to congress. that's something we should come together and try to fix so everybody has asked you what's appropriate. testimony from the other side. so i want to ask you this what do you feel are appropriate as the irs commissioner should you be held to a lower standard than the taxpayer's subject to your jurisdiction, a higher standard or the same standard? what do you think is appropriate for us to hold you to? >> i think i like any public servant should be held to the highest standards. >> should you be held to at least an equal standard to taxpayers that are subject to your jurisdiction. >> i think we should be held to that standard or even higher. >> and if that's the case, wouldn't you agree if a taxpayer for sitting where you were sitting with the same responses that you were given that that
taxpayer would be in a lot of trouble. and let me just throw this out to you, if the facts show that you lied to congress -- i'm not saying they did. if they show that you lied to congress or that you mismanaged your office, what do you believe is appropriate for congress to do to try to fix it? you already said that you don't think that impeachment is the right thing. what do you think is appropriate? should we just do nothing and let that continue or do we just keep coming back in here and saying oh we're not going to do it again? >> no, i think i have never objected to any of the hearing. >> i'm not talking about the hearings. i'm talking about the conclusions of the hearings. you said that you didn't think impeachment was inappropriate. mr. jordan said he didn't think he should continue to hold that office. if a taxpayer were here you said you should be held to the same standard as that taxpayer. that taxpayer would have had to pay the irs.
the taxpayer provided information truthfully and did the best they could and the first thing we do with that taxpayer is try to help them reconstruct those records. >> you're not going to tell me that if a taxpayer comes to you and filed a faulty tax return and then just said oh i'm sorry i didn't know that was the case that you're going to let him off the hook. >> no, he has to pay the taxes he owes. >> what do you owe for misrepresenting something to congress and let me say this to you mr. commissioner, what incentive is it when you come here to testify before us if you can consistently just say i don't know. isn't it a great incentive for you not to do due diligence to find out? you could have told the committee i don't know but when you make an firm tif statement doesn't that put you under some responsibility. and affirmative action.
and that information would be impeded from going to congress. don't you have an affirmative duty to do everything you can. >> to make sure that the agency functions well but that doesn't take place to the extent that i can control. >> in hindsight did you do everything you could do to find out if you were making accurate statements and do everything that you can do to make sure that evidence getting to congress wasn't being impeded? >> i do in retrospect. it was not known until well after my hearings. >> that's not my question. >> the answer is i couldn't tell the committee things i didn't know. all i could tell the committee was what i knew and what i knew is hah i told the committee when later information a year later in terms of that came out and given assurances. >> we have a large number of
executives that i have great confidence in and when they tell me that they're doing their best. >> so you can rely on those experts to tell you that and that's enough for you. i just close by saying mr. chairman. >> he would be in a world of hurt and with that i yield back mr. chair. >> thanks. recognize the gentleman from tennessee for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chair and firstly i welcome you. i know you would rather be other places and i probably wish you were other places too but you're here and this has all the trappings of impeachment but the constitutional standard for impeachment that this city considers is high crimes or
misdemeanors and that's been discussed today. the question is not whether you commissioner have been a perfect administration and i'm not saying that you haven't, that's a question for the ways and means committee to decide and they oversee the irs and for the president that appointed you. not for this committee. the question we're called upon in this context to decide whether it's high crimes or misdemeanors that warrant the impeachment and that would be high crimes or misdemeanors that you have committed and maybe not that people think your office or predecessors committed. >> the commissioners critics need to show he acted with some deliberate bad faith. they have not done so and every investigator looked at these facts. the treasury, inspector general and senate finance committee reefed the same conclusion.
and by the threat there of the revenues that are necessary to provide the services that the government should be rendering. >> no. >> how much is the irs budget be cut recently? >> the irs budget since 2010 has been cut $900 million even as we have 10 million more taxpayers in a range of mandates. >> $900 million, is that what you said? >> yes, our budget today is $900 million less than it was. >> has anybody said when you cut the irs $900 billion how much revenue is lost because of the lack of ability to audit.
>> we estimate and provided that information and it's not a guess that we might find people. >> so we haven't saved $900 million. we have lost 4 billion, 100 million. >> correct. >> does that contribute to the deficit? >> yes. >> if you cut irs by that much money, and my friends on the other side of the aisle that don't think the government services are so necessary we lose 4 billion, 100 million dollars, we're hurting the person at the bottom. people that need government
assistance is not entitled or it's energy. and not getting enough food for the children. and not public schools or public health. looking for cures for cancer and alzheimer's and diabetes and heart disease and stroke. >> they are attacking the nih and cdc and the payments for hunger and their children and wic payments and public education and public health. is that not true? >> i'm not an expert of where the money would go but there's less money to be provided or to cut the deficit.
>> well, you have done nothing to warrant this hearing but your office is under attack because government is under attack and takes care of the poureorest an the least of these. >> first question for me would be did she have any kind of a software package or search that excluded or identified the conservative groups and far
outweighed the nonconservative groups? >> clearly, they were totally improper criteria used to select organizations applying for c-4 designation for further review. those organizations were conservative organizations. >> where there was an electronic system that sorted out these applications? is there any data base, any matrix of any kind or paperwork of any kind other than a stack of applications? >> my understanding was they were developed beyond the look out for organizations with these names in their titles and some of those were progressive names but the bulk of the applications were conservative and it was that list my understanding was
it as i was back and forth as well as the front line trying to figure out how do we handle these and that list was developed and there was an attempt to stop losing the list and the list got used again. >> we know that they confirmed the targeting that had taken place as well. >> have there been any dismissals or violated policy or protocol in such a way that it was worthy of termination? >> as i say and if you
identified them that would be your duty going forward as well then i'd like to take you to martin'sberg and that was 424 takes. and a warehouse of 1900 square feet. i know how big that is so that night shift they decided to scrub those 422 of the 424 successfully and can you explain to this committee how long it would take to process 422 tapes? >> i don't know but a assume it's that process. the tapes have been sent there and they were actually the bulk of related tapes have been erased a couple of years before that. these were the remaining tapes. they were in a closet and were
identified as junk. >> we can find out. >> i think that's important. put a tape in and even another and another and an 8 hour night shift. do you know the individuals that processed the tapes? >> i do. >> they're still working for the irs. >> i can't talk about personnel but they clearly points higher vieded a report. >> i'm not asking you for their names. i'm just saying are they still working for the irs. >> my understanding is at least one of them is. but it was an honest mistake and we turned it over to our people to review it and that personnel review went on but they had made an honest mistake. it was not intentional on their part. >> in their testimony before congress it seemed to be
incredulous and have the voids and vacancies and information that we have and many are sitting down today and that time line and the things that went on with watergate. which one do you think would sound more imyou probable? >> when there's a gap and more information provided that's more significant than when 24,000 e-mails are provided from that same period. we have some information about that conversation and they would be more comparable but there was no information there and there's 24,000 e-mails but only 10,000 of them are from the gap period and we produced 24,000.
>> i would submit the opposite conclusion myself but i thank you and i yield back mr. chairman. >> thank you. this hearing is noted as a hearing on impeachment articles in part 3. there's no impeachment articles and this is not an impeachment hearing. this is therefore a total sham. the impeachment process cannot begin until the 435 members of the house of representatives adopt a resolution authorizing the house judiciary committee to conduct an independent information. such a resolution has not been presented to or passed by the
house rendering today's hearing a farce. this committee does a grave injustice as a hollow institution by being complicit in this sham proceeding. there's a reason for a careful process when it comes to the most drastic action of impeachment and it's without precedence in the history of the united states. it's impeached branch officials only three times and never impeached a sub cabinet official the so-called impeachment resolutions contain clear errors of facts, misleading statements and baseless conclusions. the commissioner has repeatedly
asked for immediate access to the transcripts of all interviews conducted by the house oversight and government reform committee during it's investigation. they are necessary to answer basic questions about the scope and depth of that committee's information such as what witnesses were sbe viewed and what questions were asked and what leads were followed and whether that all relevant information was disclosed but again i would tell you that this committee conducted no such investigation. the house judiciary committee. this is a drastic departure from our previous process. and it's depriving the commissioner of due process. and reasons for the process
applicable to this particular proceeding. and misleading baseless conclusions. >> and making objections to any evidence. to cross examine the witness that the resolutions proponents put forward. >> and his ability to confront that evidence present his own evidence, have that evidence subjected to confrontation by the accuser and then would fall
and this committee impeachment was in fact warranted. which is a very drastic action. and a history of this. so what we're doing today, ladies and gentlemen, you know, i know, the american people know is just playing politics. we got other things that we should be dealing with. and funding for the flint fiasco unremediated for the last year. so many things to do passing the budget. keeping the government open. and approaching another deadline. no continuing resolution.
no appropriations bills passed. nothing and here we are three or four days before we adjourn so that these members who talk to badly about the institution of government can go home to get reelected so they can come back next year and do nothing. i will yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. chairman, sometimes the track record is so strong there's the purpose of one question and all one can do is state the facts and hope they will be enough to serve the cause of justice. the commissioner took over the internal revenue service in the wake of the conservative group targeting scandal for the
precise purpose of reforming that agency internally. instead he continued his legacy of deliberately stone walling justice. after the director of the irs's tax-exempt organizations unit invoked the fifth amendment when she appeared before congress the committee on oversight issued a subpoena for irs documents including all of the e-mails the chief technology officer specifically issued a preservation order not to destroy any e-mails, back up tapes, or anything relevant for the investigation. now mr. chairman, despite a congressional subpoena and do not destroy order the irs inspector general found that they erased 422 back up tapes containing as many as 24,000 e-mails. that's been stated here but all
the while he knowingly kept congress in the dark. clearly away tra that's the e-mails have been lost and knowingly and deliberately withheld that information for four months and stone walled the entire investigation. >> you testified under oath four different times. >> provided false testimony and swore under oath that the information on the bulk of the back up tapes was unrecoverable. 700 e-mails were in fact recoverable. and failed to protect citizens against the same type of future discriminati discrimination. no significant measures have been implemented to ensure that
civil servants don't continue in the future to unlawfully target americans paced on their political or religious views. mr. chairman this entire matter was absolutely counter to everything a republic like ours was meant to be. in constitutional republic we are predicated on the rule of law and few things more shamefully undermine trust in government more than witnessing those given the sacred responsibility to enforce taxization he equally and according to the law and using the federal governments taxization and it's power to unlawfully and economically
destroy. and the betrayal of their sworn oath to the united states constitution will be large in their legacy because it's something that goes to the heart of the rule of law many this republic and that so many lying out in arlington national cemetery died to preserve. he should have never allowed them to treat an august the way he treated an investigation. congress owes it to the american people and future generations and to our sworn oath to the constitution. to hold the perpetrators of this abuse of power accountable.
>> and every candidate for president has released personal tax returns and provides voters with important pack dpround information on the candidates contributions to these community. how he may operate his business and i would just like to confirm a few things that we might know if we had access to the candidate's tax returns. releasing a tax return can demonstrate how much a person pays in taxes; is that correct? >> you would know any time anybody file what is they paid in taxes. >> will it also tell us how much a person pays to charity. >> they took the chairable deduction for various reasons sometimes people don't. >> would it give us some indication to do a person's access.
>> and what benefits they took advantage of. if we had a tax return would it provide information on how a person perceives his income, right? and we may if we had access and some indication of how the person finances his real estate transactions. >> you would have some but you wouldn't have a full picture. >> right. as opposed to none. >> be a very lie level of them.
they're not going to be any of the exhibits. >> let me go on. as you're aware the current republican nominee for president donald trump repeatedly said he is unable to release his tax urns because he's under audit by the irs. he said i will release my returns and i have a few questions about that and under current law the irs is prohibited from disclosing a person's tax returns but doesn't prevent a person from releasing his own tax returns. >> that's correct. >> how long can the audit go on? >> audits can go on depending on the complexity. >> while they're under audit are they? >> no, they may be advised not to but they're not prohibited. >> advised by the irs not to? >> by their advisors and not by the irs. >> richard nixon released his tax returns while he is audited by the irs. anything that prohibits a person from releasing his tax returns
during an audit. and in anyway impacts that pending audit of the return. >> the release itself wouldn't. the concern sometimes by taxpayers is when the information is public there may be more information that will be provided. and released itself. >> i understand. i understand. >> we understand. that's the concern. does the irs send a letter to a person informing him that he is being audited by the irs. >> is there any law or regulation by publicly disclosing the letter from irs that tells them they're being audited? >> no restriction by the irs. >> releasing tax returns as we have just been discussing points higher vieds transparency.
it's reported also on the front page of the washington post that the trump foundation spent more than a quarter of a million dollars to settle lawsuits filed against his business. just a few remaining questions there. is it illegal for the head of a nonprofit to use money for the charitiesty to benefit himself or his business. >> as a general matter they're not allowed to. >> is it also illegal to make political gifts such as the trump foundations $25,000 contribution. >> i can't talk about any individual taxpayer's activities. the law is clear. 501c-3 organizations cannot be involved in politics but i would again stress we never talk about any individual's tax returns or their policies. >> we shouldn't have to ask you to talk about donald trump's tax returns. we should be free to talk about those tax returns because as you told us there's no reason that he has not shared them with us. he has not been prohibited from
sharing them with us. >> we can't learn everything from his tax returns but it should be an important start for the american people and i appreciate you being here to clear that up and i yield back the balance of my time. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from ohio. mr. jordan. >> thank you. is the irs still targeting conservative groups? >> absolutely not. >> that's not what the united states court of appeals for the district of columbia said. they just issued a decision on august 5th, 2016. last month they say it never occurred. they have admitted that applications for exemption by some plaintiff's have never been
processed. that sounds like still going on to me. and they say it's absurd to suggest that the effect of the irs's unlawful con duck which delayed the processing of plaintiff's applications has been eradicated when two of the plaintiff's applications remain pending. sounds like targeting is still going on to me. let me just paraphrase that. it's absurd to say targeting has stopped when the unlawful conduct continues. and this is not donald trump saying this. this is the united states court of appeals for the district of columbia decided just six weeks ago. so you guys are still up to it, aren't you? >> as i wrote in a letter to all the oversite committees including yours there's three cases not processed because of our policy for years has been if you're in a process and then stop the process but those are from four or five years ago.
they are not new cases. there is not no new case. >> they have been waiting, four, five, in some cases six years and i figured you would say that and so it didn't carry much weight. they're saying quote we have been violating your rights. not processing your applications. you are entitled to have your applications processed but if you ask for that processing by way of a lawsuit then you can't have it. so the court wasn't buying your argument. and they're more concerned about people's fundamental libber gattis and you guys continue to violate them and they go on to say this and we will advise the irs if you haven't ceased to violate the rights of the taxpayers then there's no se sags. if you haven't stopped doing it you're still doing it.
>> we are processing those applications. >> this is not me making that argument. it's these conservatives that want to impeach the irs commissioner. this is the court saying you guys are still doing it. never forget what still happened here. never forget the underlying offense. the irs targeted people for exercising their most fundamental liberty. their right to speak against the policy of their government and they got harassed for doing that. >> but how about if due process of the people that were harassed for years and three groups getting harassed today. the irs targeted folks they got
caught. at first she lies about it. she says it wasn't us. it was the folks from cincinnati and then takes the fifth. that puts a premium on the documents and communications making sure that we get those. and now the clencher. now the clencher, it's still going on. i'm saying why haven't we done this a long time ago when this is the record? losing e-mails. back up tapes destroyed. targeting still continues to this day. words from the court of appeals for goodness sake that's why this hearing is important and why we should move forward with the articles submitted 15 months ago and make sure that you no longer hold office. i yield back.
>> thank you mr. speaker, mr. chair. commissioner, how many investigations have you been involved with regarding the events referenced in this impeachment resolution. could you explain your personal involvement in each of these investigations? >> when i started there were six investigations on going. the senate finance committee and permanent subcommittee and department of justice and inspector general. >> what were the results of these investigations? >> as earlier noted results were the ig noted in it's investigation that no one had done anything purposefully to impede the congressional investigation and nobody
instructed anybody to do that. no one had done anything that raised the level of any activity subject to nobody did anything that impeded the investigation the senate finance committee had all the information they needed. there was a majority report and whether it was bad management and the bipartisan report had a series of recommendations and we accepted all of those recommendations and all the recommendations of the majority report and minority report. and it maintains that there was nothing done that was intentional in terms of any material presentation. everybody has agreed it
shouldn't happen again. nobody should be selected for any adverse activities either denial or wait for time because of the name of the organization. this was, in fact, selecting people only by the name of the organization and everybody has agreed and i totally agreed when i started. in fact i apologize to anyone stuck in the process for more than a year waiting for an answer. the ways and means committee has not issued a report. and there was a staff report at the end of 2014. >> let's talk about the treasury inspector general. can you describe the working relationship between staff at the irs and treasury inspector general. are the results of the investigation considered nonbias
and reliable. >> i was a supporter of internal audit ors. we meet with the senior staff every month. as i tell our employees, the igs don't create problems. they raise issues that we might not otherwise know and it's important to respond positively and we are responded to the recommendation. they reviewed it and said we basically implemented all other recommendations i worked on the hill but i don't think he has been political. he has done a straightforward job and we have a good relationship. >> one major problem here stems from the two irs employees in a west virginia facility to erase the back up tapes that contain some of the e-mails and directed
to destroy or hide information from congress, the doj or the treasury inspector general. let me ask this, did you make an aif i recall tif order that those tapes be preserved? and did you ever make efforts to keep this information from congress? >> i sent a reminder making sure that they understood that all media should be preserved. when i discovered the tapes had been erased that was a mistake and it shouldn't have happened and as is noted i run the organization and if an honest mistake is made on my watch it's my mistake. i tell employees that. >> so you made several statements saying those tapes should be preserved then? >> i did not make several. it had gone through the system there was a standing order in 2013. there was a reminder going out
from my consult to the it department to preserve the errors. we were making a massive effort to production so you would have thought everybody would have known that we're producing documents as fast as we could and therefore we should protect them. >> thank you. i yield back. >> we have 700 plus thousand people at 3:30 in the morning. i know we have added how we still have some on going correspondence and i would like some break down. >> i'm delighted to do that. >> however, let me go back. you and i have had several conversations. and i was in a member of the
oversight committee. do you believe that just from your law, just to settle, a subpoena is a valid form of getting information from someone who is being like the committee actually subpoenas i asked if the irs produced all the e-mails as required by subpoena and the subpoena currently right here. i'd ask you the same question 56 days earlier and the answer then was no and then when i asked you the question in september of 2014 the answer again was no. and produced oversite committee. >> i don't know. we have been working to prioritize. we had a long hearing in march of 2014 about the order in which
we would supply the subpoena. i made it clear he would prepare to respond to the entire subpoena. that's how we ended up with the committee saying the first priority would be the remaining e-mails and since then we're working through whatever information they would want. >> it's supposed to have been produced and didn't get the gift of being produced but it was number two on the list and on the actual part she's not in a crash situation. her hard drive was never in doubt. why the delay here? are you blaming the committee? >> no the committee is asking for some information and we agreed we would get lerner emails and respond as we went
forward. >> one of hose questions is he e-mails from 90,000 employees outside and i explained in 2014 that that would take a long time. >> some of these are specifically named. the four people specifically named were not these vast amounts out here. there's no constructive problem with computer and hard drive and it sounds that you're a very good witness. >> this is the frustration we
all have with this. >> i don't mean to do that and i apologize if there's any information. we have been working with the staff in terms of responses. and regarding the determination and that's how the pages came out and i have forgotten how many hundreds of thousands of e-mails this are. to the extent that there is additional information and we sent a note to everybody in january 2015. >> if we haven't provided all of the other e-mails it had nothing to do with this and the committee staff will like those we will do that. >> i'll say it again now. this is what the american people do not understand. the selective ability to work with this. >> recognize the gentleman from illinois for five minutes.
>> thank you commissioner. i'm going to finish up this skittle. i love skittles because they come orange and red and yellow and purple and all together together. a lot of people on this side of the aisle, we like that. and every now and then -- sorry, i'll get a bad skittle. but i don't ban them all. because i get one. because most of the skittles are pretty delicious. i like them. it might not be nutritious, but they're delicious. just like we shouldn't ban all the little girls fleeing murder and rape, human bondage and torture. we shouldn't ban them all. just like we wouldn't ban all the skittles because there might be one bad skittle. this is a nation of freedom of
religion. and yes, even freedom to pay your taxes to the united states. mr. commissioner, i have a few extra bags of skittles. and i'm going to share them with you and your staff. so that after this reckless and bitter hearing, you can get a small amount of sweet candy to improve the rest of your day. now i have a question. is it fair to say you're an expert on tax law at this point? >> i never claimed i was an expert on tax law. >> i know you can't answer questions about specific tax returns. you've made that abundantly clear to my friend and others as we had the hearings. even if those tax returns, everybody in america would love to see them, you can't share them. so we can't do a poll and send it to your commissioner, and you can abide by the poll. there is laws. or to answer specific questions about any individual's tax
activity. so i want to offer a hypothetical and see if we can't get your reaction. let's say someone set up a charitable foundation. let's say someone solicits millions of dollars for that individual and someone who set up used the money from the foundation which is tax exempt by you at the irs. this is a tax exempt tax foundation. and he uses to pay off debts incurred by his for profit company. tax exempt, charitable, use that money to pay off debts incurred. in fact, not only does he do that, he uses to pay off legal judgments against his for profit company. that's company i'm making money from. and i'm hopefully paying you taxes. and i'm using the other money because it's tax exempt. let's say for the sake of argument, he would pay someone a million dollars if they hit a hole in one during a tournament
at his golf course. and after someone hit the hole in one, the individual refused to pay. then after a court rules that he has to pay $100,000 would be paid mutually agreed by a charity as part of that settlement. the individual takes the $100,000 of other people's money, not his money. the court said you have to pay the money, individual. but he uses it from the foundation to pay that debt. my question to you is, given that scenario, is that strictly speaking, what's the term, legal to do something like that? i just want to know. would that be legal for an individual to use money from a tax exempt account foundation, a charitable account of other people's money to pay off legal obligations incurred by his for profit enterprises? and before you answer, let me just follow up. again, strictly hypothetical. let's say there was a $10,000 portrait of the individual, and
he used the foundation's money to buy it, put it in one of his for profit businesses, writing a check out of the charity auction drawn on the charity using other people's charitable tax-free donation, but using the portrait in his for profit business. i get a bunch of money. i put it in my foundation. we don't pay tax on it. i go and bid on a portrait of me and i put it in my business. would that in your opinion be legal within the law and consistent with someone who declares themselves a law and order individual? >> congressman, i said at the start i came here to answer questions truthfully and straight forward, but i can't -- we don't talk about individual cases. and if hypotheticals begin to look like individual cases, i'm not at liberty to give an opinion or judgments about this. >> but the commissioner, commissioner, you do know whether something is legal or not? here is the question. can someone take money from a
not for profit foundation and pay off a legal settlement, court settlement to pay that debt off? >> what i can tell you is -- >> can you use tax exempt money to pay for business purposes? >> as i said before, the law is clear. any tax-exempt organization cannot use its money to benefit anyone closely associated with that organization. but i can't give you -- every case is different. every case has background and information surrounding it. >> commissioner, you know who i'm talk about. everybody in this room knows who i'm talking about. all we want is a straight answer. right? >> but i can't -- >> the time of the gentleman has expired. >> buy car, buy suits. >> the time of the gentleman -- >> what can he use that tax exempt money? >> the time has expired. the commissionler be allowed to answer the question. >> i think it's important for all the taxpayers to understand, if you deal with us, your information, we go at great lengths to protect our. our employees understand every
taxpayer's information is sacrosanct. we do not reveal to it anybody. and it's important to understand that we do not discuss anything about their tax situation with the public. so while i understand the interest in this issue, even in a hypothetical sense, it would be inappropriate for the commissioner or anybody else at the irs to respond other than to say the law is clear as to what is 501 c-3s can and cannot do. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from south carolina, mr. gowdy for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want you to do something that those of us who serve in government probably ought to do with a little more regularity, which is to put ourselves in the shoes of the people we purport to work for. i want you to imagine waking up, and you learn that agents of an agency that you already fear, one of the most feared agencies in all of government with a lot of control and power either real or perceived over your life, some agents of that agency are
targeting people based on their political ideology. and those are folks in positions of leadership. i don't know if you read lois lerner's e-mails or not, but there is a palpable animus, a hostility towards conservatives. it comes through in her work e-mails. these are work e-mails. this is not her musing about an op-ed in "the washington post." these are work e-mails. demonstrating a tremendous enmity towards conservatives. and some of those groups wanted to do nothing more than just educate their fellow citizens about the constitution. and so i'm sure you can appreciate the irony of lois lerner punishing people who want to educate their fellow citizens about the constitution and then she comes and hides behind it. to avoid answering questions
about her conduct. that's why people are upset. and then you add to that the president of the united states, the person who campaigned as the great uniter, that the same rules should apply to everyone, really didn't mean it after all. and he prejudges an investigation while the investigation is pending. so, against this backdrop, congress, i'm sure you will agree has not only the right, but frankly an obligation to provide oversight over an agency where that is the prima fascia evidence at bar. we have an obligation to do it. but the efficacy of our investigations depends upon the fullness of the information we're providing and the honesty of the witnesses that come before us.
we are no use if we have incomplete information or those that we seek information from are not truthful. so there is a piece of your testimony that has troubled me. and i want us to go through it. and this is what you said. since the start of this investigation, every e-mail has been preserved. nothing has been lost. nothing has been destroyed. so i want us to go through. what did you mean by "since the start of this investigation"? >> i meant since the response. as you note, the appropriate congressional response to the ig report in may of 2013 when the six investigations started. the investigations there, as i said, were for congressional vign/doj. >> you and i are in agreement you. meant from the very inception of the investigation. >> correct. >> and then your next, this is under oath. i think you'll agree it's material, it's important.
we're not asking you about something unrelated to the investigation. so under oath, the next thing you say is every e-mail has been preserved. what did you mean by "every e-mail"? >> i meant every e-mail that the irs had that i knew of had been preserved. >> well, then why didn't you say that. >> pardon? >> why didn't you say that? >> i knew then what i know now, i would have testified differently. but at the same i testified honestly on what i knew and what i had been told. nobody regrets more than i do that in some ways this case has been the case that keeps on giving with new information coming out. i wish the information had all been out to begin with. >> well, commissioner, it is always an option to say i don't know. loretta lynch has made a living answering questions with "i don't know." it is always an option to say based on what i was told. but you were incredibly
definitive. you said every e-mail has been preserved. and then for those of us who may not have been paying attention you said nothing has been lost. what did you mean by nothing? >> what i meant at that time was i had been advised nothing. but you're exactly right. in retrospect, i would have been better advise to say to the best of my knowledge or on the basis of what i have been told which was in fact the basis of my testimony. >> well, i'm out of town, but this is what i would like you to do this. is an important matter. i was one of the folks who wanted this hearing. i think this is really important. and you should be able to provide us information. but congress should have all of that information. >> exactly. >> so what i would like for you to do for me is you used the word mistake. that is the lowest level of -- there is mistake, there is reckless disregard for the truth. there is a deliberate indifference, and then there is intent. i'd be curious what you think the proper punishment is for
each level of that. and the other thing i need you to do is to the extent you relied upon other people's counsel or what they told you, i need to know who they were. this committee, and i would think you would want us to interview every single witness that has access to information that would be relevant. >> i think you have interviewed all of them already. >> so you cannot think of a single person that this committee should interview that we have not already interviewed. >> to the best of my knowledge, at this time you have interviewed -- i don't know the names of all the 50, but the people who have advised me throughout this case, you have interviewed me. >> would you do me the courtesy of making sure with your lawyer that the record is complete? whenever the record is complete, that's when we have to make the decision. i'm giving you the opportunity under heading of due process to make sure that every bit of information you think should be considered is in fact in the hands of this committee. >> well, i would just note and
without going into detail about it, there is a lot of information and misinformation and misinterpretation of it that's in the hands of the committee. and if there were going to be a full hearing, i would have the opportunity to explore that. we would be able to cross-examine witnesses. we would be able to provide you not just the allegations being made, but the facts on both sides. each side would have the opportunity. but the impact of the facts. you should hear from the inspector general directly. who did he talk to? is he still as he said in his letter confident that it was an honest mistake by two employee, it was not purposeful. >> that's what i'm asking. give me a witness list. because i can't cross-examine them until we have examined them. >> that's correct. i'd be happy to provide you the witnesses and the information that this committee would need to be able to actually proceed accordingly. but as noted, that would be if the committee decide it wanted to go to a full-scale impeachment process, which i understand this is not. . >> thank you, mr. chairman.
>> the time has expired. i allowed additional time because that is a good exchange of what needs to happen. the chair recognize gentlewoman from california, ms. bass. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me begin by joining in with my colleague on the other side of the aisle and thanking you and your staff for being of great assistance to my constituents in los angeles. i've had several members of the community that have had some difficult situations, and your staff has been very responsive. i know when you took over the irs, one of the reasons why you were asked to fulfill this assignment is because of your history of addressing organizations that were having big challenges. and i wanted to know if you could describe what specific challenges the irs faced at the time you took over the organization. >> when i took over the organization, first we needed to make sure that the situation that led to the improper
selection of people just by their names never happened again. so we've pursued. as people have made recommendations over what we have control, we have adopted though. we have a substantial challenge when i started with the underfunding of the agency, which still continues in terms of implementing not only the normal tax seasons, but we had the foreign tax compliance act, the affordable care act. since then the able act, the health coverage tax credit act, private debt collection requirements, all of which have been unfunded mandates that the irs has had to enforce. we are under constant attack by organized criminals around the world trying to get access to our information. so our cybersecurity issues and our antiquated i.t. systems are a major concern and a major attack for us. >> go ahead. >> and the last thing is we provide tax credits pursuant to statute, particularly with the earned income tax credit. and i've been concerned from the start that we need to do everything we can to get the level of improper payments down.
make sure everybody eligible participates, but make sure the right amounts go out. and it's been a very complicated challenge. >> so with all of the challenges, it's my understanding that the irs has spent about $20 million and devoted over 160 hours, 160,000 hours to collect, review and produce over 1.3 million pages of documents to congress. with all of that effort, all of that time, and all of those pages, were these primarily related to the 501c-34 issue? >> these were all related to the six investigations. >> and are those numbers accurate? >> pardon? >> are those numbers accurate in terms of the amount and time and pages? >> yes. $20 million. we've had 250 people at various times working either full-time or part-time doing our best to respond as quickly as we could to congressional requests. >> so how did all of that time and money assist the irs in addressing the number of challenges that you laid out?
>> the best it was going do and i hoped it would do in some ways better than it has was to try to assure people that we understood the nature of the problem, which the ig had reported on six months before i started, and then we would have a basis for trying to solve that problem. and i think we have done -- taken all the recommendations anybody has had. because i think it's critical. going back to the issue about confidence and the irs and the government for people to believe they're going to get treated fairly. we don't care whether they belong to one party or another, whether they go to church, don't go to church, what their political beliefs are. they should be treated the same way as anyone else. and all of that background is not relevant to us at all. >> you know, when the whole controversy was taking place, i found it interesting the concern over conservative organizations. because i'm very familiar with the number of liberal organizations that felt they received extra scrutiny beyond what was appropriate by the irs.
one of the root problems here in general is the time it takes for the agency to process applications for tax exempt status. and i know in recent years, especially after citizens united, the agency was overwhelmed by applications for c-3 and c-4 status. i wanted to know how you have addressed this problem, and is there currently a backlog. >> presently there is no backlog for a c-4 application. and it now takes an average of ate days to go through. for c-3s where we had a backlog of 60,000 applications when i started, we have treatment lined the process for small charities and allowed them to get through in a matter of weeks instead of nine to 12 months. there is no backlog. our goal is for the complicated c-3s to get them out within 270 days. and we meet that. for the c-4s, most of them get handled very quickly under expedited processing. >> can you give an example of
how things were streamlined? >> at this point, we get -- we have about a million and a half subchapter summaries c organizations, tax-exempt organizations. 75% of them are c-3. only about 5% are c-4s. and the majority of c-4s are garden club, kiwanis clubs, local groups. but every year we get about a thousand c-4 applications. and as i said, the average time for processing now is 83 days. >> thank you. my time is up. >> the chair thanks the gentlewoman. the chair recognizes mr. chaffetz. >> in your opening statement, you said you had instructed people in writing to preserve their records. could you please provide this committee and the oversight government reform and copy of the e-mails? >> copy the e-mails. sure. i think we instructed i did not personally send an e-mail. >> you didn't. we'll go back and look at the record. if there are any e-mails asking people to preserve the
documents. we like to see those because we don't think we have them. >> we'd be happy to provide those. >> we stand by all your previous congressional testimony. >> i noted if i knew then what i know now, i would have testified in a different way. >> what in your previous congressional testimony needs to be clarified or altered or updated? >> well, i tried to make that clear. clearly at the time i testified, i was advised that in fact all the evidence was being preserved pursuant to the orders that ran out. since then, it's been clear that obviously -- some tapes were erased. which was a mistake. i said at the time i were testifying again i would say -- >> part of the problem that we have is that you've never clarified your testimony. this is the first time we've ever heard you say mistake. this is the first time that you said that you've provided essentially false testimony. that's the way i read it. when you said on june 20th of 2014, quote, since the start of this investigation, every e-mail
has been preserved. nothing has been lost. nothing has been destroyed, end quote. was that a mistake or was it false? >> there was an honest statement on the basis of what i knew. congressman gowdy said i would have been better advised on the basis of what i've been told. >> but you told news a hearing on july 23rd, you told mr. jordan that you learned in april that these e-mails are missing. >> you have to understand there are two sets of e-mails. the e-mails that i knew were missing in april 2014 were from the lois lerner hard drive crash. no one knew until 2015 about the erase sure of the tapes in june. >> why are you testifying that since the start of the investigation nothing has been lost? nothing has been destroyed? >> at the time i testified, that hearing was about the lois lerner hard drive crash. so it was clear that lois lerner's hard drive crashed. >> but you also testified a couple of weeks later that you
knew in april there was a problem. in fact, kate duval, your senior person, knew in february. you said you personally knew in april. and yet you came before congress and you gave these definitive statements. >> well, if you look at the timing of it, you had the report from us on the entire production system and the lois lerner hard drive. >> but what you said was false. was it true or false what you said? >> it was true as far as i knew. and when i testified -- >> but in april, you said you knew in april that there were missing e-mails. >> yes. and i filed a report. >> how can you simultaneously say you know there are missing e-mails in april and in june you say since the start of this investigation, every e-mail has been preserved? >> because lois lerner's e-mails were lost in 2011, long before the investigation started. and that hearing was about the lois lerner hard drive crash. >> let me ask you another quote. true or false. we confirmed that the backup tapes from 2011 no longer existed because they had been
recycled pursuant to the irs normal policy. on july 23rd, you said, quote, confirmed means that somebody went back and looked and made sure that in fact any backup tapes that had been existed had been recycled. was that true or false? >> that was true in my belief at the time. >> who went back and looked? >> i was told that the i.t. department. >> told by who? >> i was told by people. >> who are these people? >> who are those people? >> yes. >> it was the deputy chief information officer whom you've interviewed who said to me that they had looked and they were confident that in fact -- i asked. is there any way to get tapes. he said they've all been recycled. >> but nobody went back and looked. in fact, mr. camus, who is the head of -- was the deputy there at the treasury inspector general said the best we can determine through this investigation, they just -- they simply didn't look for those e-mails. so for the over one thousand e-mails that we found on the
backup tapes, we found them because we looked for them, end quote. how it is that you spent $20 million, 250 full-time people and you never looked for them according to the inspector general? and you testify that you went back in fact and confirmed. that is false. >> that's what i was told at the time. that was my understanding at the time. if i knew then -- >> when did you inform congress that this was your view now. when did you tell congress that you were wrong on this? >> when the ig reported in 2015, i subsequently had a hearing with the senate finance committee with this. and i testified. in fact, i publicly stated in response to the public issues that it was a mistake for those tapes to be erased. and i testified -- >> you know it was a mistake. but they were erased after a dually issued subpoena. that's where we have a fundamental problem.
you issue 66,000 summons and e-mail and subpoenas each year. you know how to dish it out. but you don't know how to take it. so we issue a subpoena, we expect you to comply wit. and when you destroy documents that are under subpoena, somebody's got to be held accountable for that. and that starts with you. you provided false testimony to this committee. you have provided false testimony to the oversight and government reform committee and you should be held accountable for that. i got about 30 minutes more questions, mr. chairman, but i will yield back. >> the chair thanks the gentleman, and recognizes the gentleman from louisiana, mr. richmond for five minutes. >> mr. chairman, i just pick off what where my good friend from utah left off in that conversation about being held accountable. you don't know me, but i'm a criminal defense for a while and i was a state rep. in louisiana, i watched many people get indicted and go to
jail for the misuse of nonprofit funds. and in your testimony you say that one of the important things for people with the irs is for people to feel they would be treated fairly and it doesn't make any difference who they are, what organizations or what political party they belong to. let me just tell you, there are a bunch of people, including me that think that the justice system is rigged for those who are privileged and those who are rich. so for the people that i have seen go to jail for misappropriating 2,000, 3,000, 5,000, 8,000, and we have an indictment that's pending right now, the question becomes how can someone take money that belongs to a nonprofit to satisfy a personal judgment, and
that not be a misappropriation of the nonprofit's funds? >> i don't know the details. all i can say, as i've said, the law is clear. a co corporation cannot use its assets to benefit anyone who is closely associated with the organization. >> and to pay off a personal judgment would be a benefit to a person, not an organization? >> whatever you use to not pursue charitable purposes, but to benefit anyone associated with it, the law says it is not allowed. >> let me just say this. and i wasn't even going to bring that up, because i think today is a very unfortunate day. but it signals what this congress has been about and why our approval rating is so low, and why our reputation is the do nothing congress. we do do something. we grandstand and showboat on a regular basis.
this judiciary committee in this room weeks ago after philando castile and alton sterling were killed by law enforcement, i begged for a public hearing on the issue, because i really think that the public deserves it, and i think if we don't do it, we're going have blood on our hands well, unfortunately police officers were killed. this week we have two more incidents where two people were killed in an incident with law enforcement. or two people lost their lives in an incident with law enforcement. but we're not talking about it. we're talking about a fragile country. we're talking about fragile people. and we are ignoring a humongous issue. because we're talking about impeaching you. in louisiana, we just had 7 trillion gallons of water dumped on baton rouge and the surrounding areas. just in baton rouge we lost 60
sheriff's deputy cars. we lost 50 police cars. we have a law enforcement that is dismantled. but we're not having a hearing here today to talk about how we helped them get back up because there is a pending alton sterling decision that has to come out, and how do we protect american citizens and how do we keep their community safe when that decision comes out, because we know it's coming. but we're, again, talking about impeaching you with 50 something, i don't know, 100 days left in our term. we keep grandstanding while america is burning. there are some who would rather talk about colin kaepernick not standing for national anthem than to speak about people losing their lives by the hands of law enforcement. this is the judiciary committee. we don't even acknowledge --
we're not even talking about the fact that we are losing law enforcement officers. we don't even have enough bulletproof vests for the sheriffs in the united states of america. but we're talking about impeaching you. we just had police officers and sheriffs gunned down in dallas and in baton rouge, but they don't have police vests, and we're talking about impeaching you. somewhere, somehow you have to say what are these guys thinking? what are these guys and women doing? do they not realize that we have a crisis in america, and we're talking about impeaching you? which, you know, is laughable at its best if it wasn't so sad that all of the sudden this becomes the biggest priority that we have. and mr. chairman, i would just again urge, and i want to be on the record every time we talk, that we need a public hearing so
that people understand how serious we are taking the policing in america issue. because, again, if people don't understand we're taking it serious, they will continue to take it in their own hands. people that are mentally disturbed will do unimaginable things, and it's all on us if we don't get together and talk about it. with that i will yield back. >> chair thanks the gentleman. recognize the gentleman from texas, mr. gohmert. >> thank you. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from utah. >> i would just ask for unanimous consent to enter into the record the proportionate from july 15 internal controls should be strengthened. it's critical that mr. jordan talk about the fact that the irs has not fixed the targeting problem. >> without objection it will be made a part of the roar. and now mr. gohmert is recognized. >> appreciate my friend from louisiana pointing out the grandstanding. that's kind of what i felt about
the sit-in that occurred on the house floor. and my friends across the aisle refusing to recognize that radical islam is at war with us. and instead, they talked about guns. i'm looking forward to the grandstanding about pressure cookers and the need to make them illegal. but this hearing is about whether or not mr. koskinen, you committed such acts as should cause you to be removed from office. and it's already been mentioned that you had testified that you were made aware of problems associated with mr. lerner's e-mails the same movement month that ms. duval discovered the gap, and you withheld that information, didn't disclose it for four months until june 13th of 2014. and during that time, you testified before congress four times. so i want to ask you during those four times you testified, after you learned about the
problems with ms. lerner's e-mails, did it cross your mind at all that perhaps you should disclose that, that there were problems with ms. lerner's e-mails? >> if i could correct the record, i testified and honestly, i learned about the lois lerner e-mail crash in april between april and the time we provided the report too the congress, i did not have a hearing. the hearings in june were about the lois lern ehrhardt drive crash. but i've also stated, and the reason i did not immediately report that crash was because i instructed people to see how many e-mails from the crash period we could recover. and we recovered 24,000. but as i've said in retrospect, because it did create a certain amount of aggravation on the part that i understand of at least some congressmen, in april when i was advised if i had to
do it again, i would advise the congress that we had a hard drive crash -- >> so is it your opinion that once you have testified before congress, if you learn information that makes your prior statements not completely true, that you have no obligation to come forward, send a letter, send an e-mail, send a message that you have now learned things, or in your opinion, should you just wait until you're asked. and if you're not ever asked, you have no need to disclose. which is your opinion? >> i didn't wait until i was asked. we actually produced a full report to all of the investigators' committees about the process. but as i've said, when i learned of it in april, it might have been a lot easier if i simply advised the congress. since that time we advised the congress. >> when you found out there were problems, did you know lois lerner used a blackberry, that she had a hand-held device? >> i did not. but that blackberry was in the
hand of the ig from -- >> did it cross your mind that she may have had a portable device that was used to send and remove e-mail? >> i was not analyzing lois lerner's activities. i was working and instructing people. >> you knew there were requests for lois lerner's e-mails, and it never crossed your mind she might have them on a personal device that she carried? that never crossed your mind? did it cross your mind that there was this facility in martinsburg, west virginia, where storage was kept? did that cross your mind? >> i was focused as the agency was on reviewing all the e-mails we could to get e-mails we had to pull each hard drive out of the computer. >> mr. koskinen, when you are asked under oath about the existence of e-mails, there really is an obligation to learn about the e-mails and where they are and where they exist. let me just read for you -- i
hope you're familiar with internal revenue manual. you are, hopefully. >> yes. >> thank you. >> well, this was added january 23rd, 2014, 18.104.22.168. fraud is deception by misrepresentation of material facts, or silence when good faith requires expression. and i would submit to you, mr. koskinen, you have had ample opportunities over the last two years to disclose things or maybe to make inquiry. but it certainly appears you have what might be called willful ignorance so you don't have to come up here and testify about what actually happened. it's hard to believe that you never made any inquiry about potential places that ms. lerner's controversial e-mails that may have been lost, may not have been lost, where they might be found. it shocks my conscience that the
head of the irs would not think to ask any questions other than can anybody find her e-mails. you require so much more from taxpayers. and then we'll give you 290 million more dollars. and what happens? you start closing local tax assistance offices for taxpayers like in long view, texas. and the excuse is, well, we got our budget cut. yeah, this year you got 290 million more. two months later, you're closing offices to hurt taxpayers. it looks like there is a problem with the management at the irs. and i see my time has expired. so i have to yield back. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york, mr. jeffreys for five minutes. >> mr. commissioner, thank you for your presence and your service. the chief sponsor of the impeachment resolution that resulted in this hearing is
republican representative john flemming from louisiana. is that correct? >> that's my understanding. he is one of the proposers. >> and congressman flemming is currently a candidate for the united states senate. that right? >> my understanding. i'm learning from congressman gowdy. >> are you aware that congressman flemming is currently running television advertisements as part of this campaign that claims that the head of the irs, that would be you, ordered 24,000 e-mails erased? >> i am aware of that. but the facts have already been established i think that the e-mails were inadvertently wiped by two low level employees, is that right? >> that's correct. >> and these employees work the midnight shift. that correct? >> yes. >> and they work the midnight shift at a facility in the
booming metropolis known as martinsburg, west virginia, that right? >> that's correct. >> now the treasury inspector general is a republican, that right? >> yes. >> and he issued a report on june 30 of 2015 which concluded, quote, that no evidence was uncovered that any irs employees had been directed to destroy or hide information. is that correct? >> that's correct. >> the republican-led senate finance committee has uncovered no such evidence, true? >> that's correct. >> the department of justice conducted an independent investigation and also concluded that no irs employee from top to bottom had been directed to destroy or hide information. that correct? >> that's correct. >> this is not a legitimate impeachment hearing. this is a political charade. it's a sham. it's a hollywood-style
production. the outcome has already been predetermined. the script has already been written. the witness has already been labeled a bad guy because in any hollywood style production, there must be a villain. and who better than a commissioner of the irs? but here is the problem. the founding fathers of this nation gave to this house the power of impeachment as an extraordinary remedy, only to be used in serious circumstances. it is not a high crime or misdemeanor to be the head of an agency that some of my friends on the other side of the aisle don't like as part of an administration that some of my friends on the other side of the aisle don't like. but it's been clear to me, as my
good friend from louisiana indicated, rome is burning right now. in the midst of a police violence crisis, but we're on this reckless legislative joyride to impeach the commissioner of the irs. why is that? well, perhaps there is some in this town who have been determined to impeach a member of the obama administration from the day that the president of the united states was sworn in january of 2009. but you couldn't impeach barack obama. you couldn't impeach eric holder. you couldn't impeach hillary clinton. and so some genius came up with the brilliant idea that we're going to go after the irs commissioner. it's a dereliction of duty. it's the only reason why we're here today. and it's a waste of the time and
the treasure of the american people. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from idaho, mr. labrador for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. koskinen for being here. your testimony suggests, and what was just indicated by my friend suggests that impeachment is improper and that you have -- and you have attached many exhibits to that effect. you further stated that you are unaware of anyone on your level having been impeached in the past. in fact, you stated you sent us a letter from a bunch of college professors, law professors that says the recent for the sal uter to exercise by the house, meaning we have never impeached anybody at your level is in our constitutional system, primary responsibility for supervising executive branch officials residence with the president, not with the congress.
but the question that we have to answer in this hearing is what happens when the president is not exercising that supervision over somebody like you. so maybe the question is not whether impeachment is proper, but maybe the question is why after all of these disturbing instances of lack of candor, lack of transparency, and lack of fitness to serve, you still believe that you can competently serve as the commissioner of this agency. this country may not have a long history of impeachment at your level. but certainly we have a long, long history of officials at your level who have been subject to dismissal and resignation for similar and even lesser offenses than what you have perpetrated. have you familiar with michael brown, the former director of fema? >> i do not know him, but i know the position he held.
>> and do you know what happened to him following his mismanagement of the katrina efforts? >> i do not recall specifically. i know ultimately he left the government. >> he resigned from office. are you familiar with former dea administrator michelle leonhardt? >> i do not. >> she resigned from office. are you aware of what catherine archuleta, the former opm director did following the 2015 opm hacks by foreign governments? >> that i do understand. >> and what did she do? >> she resigned. >> she resigned. there are many examples of this, including the resignation of secret service director julia pearson following security breaches, and atf head kenneth nelson over fast and furious. while i could, i'm not going to spend my entire five minutes
providing you with examples of agency heads at your level who have resigned based on agency failures. but however, i'm going to suggest to you why this is not a dereliction of duty. your bosses refuse to actually hold you accountable for your actions. so there is only one branch that can do that. and that's our branch. instead, i want to ask you, do you dispute that over 24,000 e-mails responsive to a congressional subpoena and investigation were destroyed during your tenure? >> i do not. >> do you dispute that you testified before the oversight and government reform committee after that destruction that it was your intention to comply with the requests for evidence, and that you were planning on turning over all relevant e-mail communication? >> that testimony was not after anyone knew about that erase sure. >> i did testify after it happened. just nobody knew it happened. >> was anyone at the irs,
including the two low level employees that you keep blaming for, this was anybody fired due to the destruction of evidence? >> i would like the record clear i don't blame them. at the time i didn't blame them. the ig did a year investigation -- >> were they fired? was anybody fired for the destruction of evidence? >> those people were not fired. the ig determined it was an honest mistake on their part. >> so no substantive corrective action has been taken. so ultimately, sir, i will do what you ask us to do. i will judge you on your overall record. your inability to successfully preserve the information requested, and your so-called mistaken testimony clearly demonstrates that your overall record is one of gross incompetence and extreme negligence. and that your department exhibit is such. or worse yet, there was some intentional deception. we shouldn't need the articles of impeachment that we are talking about today. and we shouldn't need these hearings, because you, mr. koskinen should have resigned for your failures to properly carry out your duties.
and for failure to bring the transparency that you promised during your confirmation hearings. and with that i yield back my time. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. you can respond if you choose to. >> pardon? >> you can respond. >> i have an overall record at the irs that i'm proud of. we've made significant progression across the board. >> you have to respond to the specific -- >> on the specific issue, i do not think that the mistakes, honest mistakes made by two employees are the grounds for either resignation or certainly not for impeachment. if in fact every time an employee make answer honest mistake in an agency, the expectation is that the head of that agency should resign, we're not going have many agency heads around. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from rhode island, mr. cicilline for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, commissioner, for being here today and for your service.
there is clearly no evidence that the charges being leveled at you today have any validity whatsoever. in fact, multiple independent and bipartisan investigations have found that you in no way purposely misled congress in any of your statements. the treasury inspector general, the finance committee and the department of justice have each conducted their own investigations on the so-called irs targeting scandal. and while these investigations uncovered various management problems at the irs, it was no evidence to support allegations of criminal activity or politically motivated behavior. there was no evidence to support allegations that you deliberately misled congress or attempted to obstruct a congressional investigation. in fact, each of these investigations found no evidence whatsoever that you acted in bad faith. under your direction, the irs has spent $20 million and devoted more than 160,000 hours to collect, review, and produce 1.3 million pages of documents to investigating committees. the entire record built on
multiple investigations fails to support the allegations level here today. and it's regrettable than rather than dealing with criminal justice reform, immigration reform, common sense proposals to reduce gun violence, that we are taking up time in this committee for this charade. i want to ask you since you are here about the political contributions of charitable foundations. first, it is legal or illegal for a charitable foundation to make a political contribution? >> the law is clear. any c-3 or -- any c-3 organization cannot make a political contribution. 527s can be in business have, to be in business totally to make political contributions. c-4s, the rule as long as their primary purpose is social welfare, they can make political contribution. >> if a charitable foundation makes a political contribution and the irs become aware of it, you go through a process in which you impose a penalty, correct? >> we go through a process of doing an audit and investigation to determine the details. >> and if you determined such a
political contribution was made in violation of law, you impose a penalty? >> there would be penalties if that was the final determination. >> and in deciding the level of punishment, the kind of penalty that the irs will impose, you look at whether, for example, it's an honest mistake or whether someone did it intentionally and tried to cover it up. you would treat those two categories differently? >> we certainly would. we would always in any audit hear from the taxpayer. and make our responses accordingly. >> so in the case of a contribution made by the trump foundation of $25,000 in which they made that contribution to a political action committee for the benefit of the attorney general candidate pam bondi, shortly before she decided not to push sue a criminal investigation or any other charge against the trump foundation, on the filing of the foundation, they put as the place that they made a $25,000 contribution instead an organization called justice for all.
which is a wichita organization, which they never made a contribution to, which sounds just like injustice for all. the only inference i think would be in an effort to cover up an illegal political contribution. in those circumstances, the irs would impose a more severe penalty, correct? >> i don't mean to be unresponsive. my goal here today is to answer questions. but as they say, when hypotheticals start to get very specific, it's inappropriate for the irs or the commissioner to respond. >> well, commissioner, you have been undoubtedly following the extraordinary coverage of the oranges of the trump foundation as it relates to these political contributions in the media, correct? >> well, i read newspapers every day. >> is someone at the irs reviewing this? or will someone initiate some review of these illegal political contributions by the trump foundation? >> as i tried to make clear, we never talk about the status of any taxpayer. and we get referrals from the
public, from members of congress suggesting that we look into particular activities of companies, charitable organizations and others there is a process with appropriate reviews and controls it goes through. but we never respond. >> okay. >> if you write awes letter, we tell you thank you for letter. well don't tell you what the action is we're going to take. so i can't tell you. >> thank you, commissioner. one final question, an issue which has been raised, my constituents with some frequency are difficulties they have when they call the irs and are put on hold for an extended period of time. really unreasonable lengths of time as they're waiting to speak to an irs official. can you talk about what efforts are being made to reduce that waiting time, and more generally, would you address the impact of the deep budget cuts on your ability to deliver services to my constituents and to constituents all across this country? >> well, if i could respond, the question was raised by the congressman from texas what we do with the 290 million. what we did with that is we hired hired a thousand people
during tax filing season. and the level of phone service went from 37%, a totally unisn'table rate the year before to 70%. but because the amount of money they provided was less than half the amount they requested, i advise that after the end of the filing season, the money ran out and the people would go away. our level of taxpayer service right now is back to an unacceptable level. it's a simple algorithm. if we have the money, we hire the people, they answer the phone. if we don't have the money, we don't hire the people, we don't have enough people to answer the phones. >> the people don't have you to blame, they have congress to blame for not appropriating the resources necessary to serve our constituents properly? >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the witness will be permitted to answer the question. >> i tried to make it clear to appropriators in the congress that it is -- we do the best we can. we have an obligation to provide taxpayers the best service we can. but it is a direct correlation between the amount of funding and the amount of service we can provide. the $900 million cuts over the
last six years means that we are significantly constrained. we did appreciate the 290 million from the congress, and we provided reports on how we actually used all of those funds for taxpayers, cybersecurity and taxpayer service. >> thank you, commissioner. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. farenthold for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. commissioner koskinen, you testified in response to a couple of questions that as a result of the lois lerner treatment of conservative organizations, several people are no longer with the irs. were any of those people fired or did they all resign? >> i actually don't know. all of that happened before i got there. all i know is the five people in the order either resigned. there were reviews done on a personal basis. and i don't know which of those people resign and which of them resigned in the face of in some cases knowledge they were to be fired. but i don't know that. and if i did know, i wouldn't be
able to tell you the details anyway. >> and you talked about these two gentlemen who degazed the tapes. and you said it was an honest mistake. so were they aware, do you know if these gentlemen were aware of the order to preserve data? >> have i not done the investigating. the ig's investigation reported that they were not aware, that they actually thought these were labeled as junk, and they thought it was junk. they had already degazed some earlier. their understanding they were junk. they came with a label that said for disposition. >> and you testified that you got the word out as a result of the subpoena not to destroy any evidence. how did you get that information out? >> the word was already out in the summer of 2013. >> but how did you communicate it to the employees where when someone who is in charge of destroying a potential media that would contain these didn't get ahold of it? was there an e-mail? >> yes.
there were e-mails in 2013. there were further e-mails in 2014. but as i've said, it shouldn't have happened. and it clearly was not an appropriate level. >> what i'm getting at is the fact that this e-mail did not get to people who actually physically destroy backup tapes seems to indicate a management failure. so i would ask that you get us copies of those e-mails and who they were distributed to. i realize, i'm a small businessman. i've never had more than about 40 people working for me. but if we were to get an order from congress or a court or the irs not to destroy evidence, we would -- we'd probably pull the hard drives out of all the computers so something isn't actually erased accidentally. as an attorney, we know the claim of spoilation of evidence really weighs against you. in texas, you're entitled to a jury instruction telling the jury that you can assume the worst was in those e-mails.
>> i've been educated by congressman gowdy about spoilation since i did not know it originally. it has to be an intentional destruction for it to be assumed that it in fact -- you can assume the worst. thus for no finding that it was intentional. >> i'm going to go a little bit and take a step back. because we are talking about articles of impeachment against you. one of the things i hear consistently from my constituents in texas is all you guys in congress do is go yell and scream and beat on your chest. in fact, i hear it from some of the folks on the other side of the aisle. when we find wrongdoing in government, congress has a limited number of remedies. we can write a law to change it, try to fix things. but that's got to get passed by the senate and signed by the president. so if it's something the other side doesn't like, right now this congress is out of luck. people say oh, you got the power of the purse. but the senate won't take up our
appropriations bills. and we're continued to force to do continuing resolutions and face games oh, you're shutting down the government and all of this nonsense. the power of the purse is basically gone. we had eric holder held in contempt from congress. we had a committee recommend criminal charges against lois lerner herself. and last week bryan pagliano refused simply to show up. and the justice department isn't doing anything. so our bag of tricks is getting kind of shallow. and impeachment is in there. and i think one of the reasons we're pulling it out is that the justice department and the obama administration are failing to cooperate with congress. the justice department rather than being the people's lawyer are turning out to be the administration lawyers. and you may be the victim of this. i mean, don't -- how well -- do you have any suggestions on how
we should get more cooperation from people before this committee, the oversight committee and the rest of congress? >> well, whatever the oversight committee is doing, they take -- they have noted on their website or at least it was until recently on their website 20 executives in the government that they thought should be removed or leave. they had big pictures and big red xs through 18 of them. so they've been successful 90% of the time. i'm one of the two that they have not thus far been able to get. >> i guess the other weapon we have are these hearings and getting the public behind us on that. and i appreciate your courage coming here. >> thank you. >> and testifying. but i really am disappointed that these things happened and happened under your watch and the buck's got to stop somewhere. >> the gentleman, without objection, the gentlemen is granted an additional 30 seconds. would the gentleman yield? >> i will. >> thank you. you asked a question that chairman chaffetz and i would both like to pose to the commissioner a slightly different way. can you please provide to this
committee and to the committee on oversight and government reform any written communication, not just e-mail, any written communication that you or anyone else made instructing irs employees to preserve records responsive to . >> and who it went to. >> and who they went to. >> yes. we'll be happy to do that. >> thank you. >> the chair recognizes the jae from michigan for five minutes. >> thank you very much for being here. thank you for your time and patience and answering the questions today much of which has been asked and reasked. apologize if i get into that area. i represent 775,000 constituents. not many issues resonate as they
have in this issue in particular with the irs. the question lhas to do with th way in which the irs expects people to live up to a certain standard and doesn't hold them to that very standard. as a former businessman and people who complied as a citizen, i'm asked to comply with the irs. if i were audited and the irs showed up at my doorstep and they said where is the information and i said my server crashed, sorry, i don't think the irs would be as lenient with me.
this is what angers people. as my colleague said earlier, we have run out of options. our job is to oversee and make sure that government runs properly. and my frustration is that it doesn't operate that way. we very infrequently have real oversight that those that come before this committee oftentimes just stair us down and go on their merry way. they take a lashing and leave. i will not accept it. this all has to change. but i want to ask you, the irs promised to deliver all of lois learner's e-mails relating to the targeting of conservative organizations but her hard drive failed and substantial amount of
backups, the backups were destroyed as well. i want to ask you about the backups. if i'm running operations, i go and make sure every possible remedy, every possible option is taken to ensure that we check everything to find everything that was asked of us. can you tell us whether or not the irs reviewed the backup tapes or any information? did they look at hard drives that handled lois learner's e-mail? did they look at the e-mail server? did they look at the black berries that she had then or has now? what was done to preserve this information for this committee and for the american people? >> there were investigations. they started six months before i
got there. there were instructions issued to preserve all media. we'll share those with the committee. the most likely place to find the e-mails was in the hard drives. hard drives were pulled and reviewed. the agreement with the committee as to what the search was look like to make sure they were getting everything responsive'inquires and that's how we ended up with a million and 300,000 pages of documents. with regard to miss learner, there were 7 will 8,000 e-mails provided. 24,000 from that gap period when i was advised of the gap period, i said we need to look at everybody she communicated with. if there is an e-mail in her box, it was on somebody else's as well. we found 24,000. did she ever come to your i.t. department and say someone help
me find these e-mails? if my computer crashed, i would say it's critical. i would immediately go to the i.t. department and say please help me. something's gone wrong here. find my e-mails. >> and there are e-mails in which she sent to the i.t. department in 2011 saying the hard drive looks like it doesn't work, it's crashed, you could fix it snt hard drive was reviewed and worked on by i.t. they sent her a note back saying we can't find any of the e-mails. she was, accord together e-mails, unhappy and upset the e-mails were lost. the only way to conceive is send it out with experts and they didn't do that. it's not as if there was a conscious effort to hide the issue. she said they are very concerned and asked for help to try to remedy it. >> my time has expired.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. commissioner, you've had an extraordinary career. head of duke university board, executive chairman of freddie mac, deputy mayor of d.c., deputy director of omb, ran a large turn around company, was in charge of y2-k for the entire country. worked at gibson and dunn, duke, yale, cambridge. you said earlier that you're proud of your record at the irs. i'm not so sure you agree. you came in with two big tasks in front of you, one, the lois learner investigation and, two, to restore the confidence in the american people that the first amendment rights weren't being compromised by the irs. we heard quite bate about our concern with respect to both of the challenges. let me ask you a hypothetical. when you were the executive chairman of the freddie mac board, if the president and ceo of freddie mac lied under oath
to congress or repeatedly misstated important facts or repeatedly was uninformed of decisions being made by surrogate or subordinates regarding the mortgage crisis, what would you have done? >> if you lied under oath to congress, we would have considered appropriate disciplinary action which might include termination. if the president of duke lied or otherwise uninformed of the subordinates are doing with regard to into investigation, what would you have done? >> if he was performing in good faith, you're talk dg he intentionally mislead? let's just say gross incompetence. unaware of the investigation and the facts, misstating the facts consistently. what would you have done? >> at that point, in fact, he would have a discussion. that doesn't sound like he was totally -- if he's totally
unaware, then viewed a serious question. there is not a situation where the head of the organization was aware by any stretch. >> so yesterday senator warren screamed at the ceo of weltz fargo for what happened to their customers. and she screamed it several times. he needs to resign. do you think the ceo of wells fargo should resign? >> not a decision for me to make. people at wells fargo knew floofrt couple years about that problem. no one at the irs knew about the eraser of the tapes. this is not a situation where people knew something and were covering it up. every time we spend a significant amount of time trying to provide all the information we had. >> so you think the ceo knew what was happening? >> all i know is what i read in
the papers. the best of my knowledge, i don't know. >> we heard a lot today from some of the democratic members of the committee that this whole hearing is an embarrassment and we should apologizapologize. here are the facts as i know them. people are afraid of the irs. the irs was used as a political tool. you were brought in to solve the problem and under your watch it got worse either because you committed perjury or consistently misinformed regarding critical facts in the investigation or you were unaware of what your subordinates were doing. now we both know, i spent 30 years in the private sector, we both know in the private sector the head of the organization with those facts in front of you, they would have been fired or resigned. and so when the dems say this is a charade and game and you can say the same about a lot of things here in washington, but my question to you is what
should i go home on friday and tell my constituents who are afraid of the irs and disgust bid washington? what happens when these facts are presented in washington is either people lie, they cover up, or we have to say well, you know, we have to expect some level of incompetence from the federal government, that's why washington is a mess. what should i tell my constituents about what is going on at the irs and how under your tenure this investigation played out? please give me an answer. >> the answer is no one lied, no one covered up and the base issue, the mismanagement that led to the improper designation of organizations by their names has stopped. so i think the answer is no one lied. no one covered up. and, in fact, we take very seriously the obligation to make sure that every taxpayer, no matter the political party, whether they go to church or not, deserves to be treated and needs to be treated and that is
our obligation to treat them fairly. >> you have to agree with me, in the private sector, the head of that organization would not have survived. >> on these facts the head of that organization would survive. i respectfully disagree. i have to say, i'm surprised that you haven't resigned w your extraordinary career, i think there is a part of you if you disagree with a wloost we're doing today would say, gosh, i just don't need this and move on and do something else. i appreciate you being here. >> i appreciate. that as i said, if i could, mr. chairman, i'm not resigned a, because i don't think anything has been done that would merit. that b, after all of the tugging, hauling and pushing over the last year and a half, my concern is if i'm forced out and i left, it will simply create a terrible precedent trying to recruit people from the private sector as i came on the ground that people can make allegation that's are not necessarily subject to a full investigation can simply make allegations charging you that
there were threats of impeachment and a lot of people would say why should i risk my career or reputation to do public service in that context. so my sense is we need to get the closure on this because i don't think impeachment is proper and we need to demonstrate to people can you come into public service and have an obligation to the taxpayers. you have an obligation to do your best and perform well and in some cases as we noeded, there is oversight committee, there are 18 out of 20 that they have so-called targeted that have left. if you can't meet the expectations you don't make progress, then you shouldn't be there. the total record here is not just c-4s where with you solved that problem. the total record over the last three years is the irs and the employees have made tremendous progress dealing with a wide range of issues. i'm proud of the record. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from wisconsin for five minutes. >> thank you very much. first of all, thank you for coming here. i think that you have been able
to present your side of the story in a very articulate manner. and in response to both friendly and hostile questions. i want to make an observation before i ask you a couple of questions. this administration has made a career or maybe history of basically ignoring whatever congress wants to do in furtherance of its constitutional oversight responsibility. that includes blowing off subpoenas and not having full disclosures, covering things up. and in the case of lois learner who is cited for contempt, the u.s. attorney announce the he would not present the contempt citation of a separate branch of the government to the u.s. district court for the district of colombia 30 minutes before he left office following
resignation. that in my opinion is an impeachable offense. but since he left office after he committed the offense, there is nothing that congress can do. i think we have to look at ourselves. one thing that i think we should do is to allow the counsel for the clerk of the house to be able to go directly into u.s. district court to enforce congressional subpoenas and other types of process to support our constitutional oversight responsibility. and i think a lot of the problems that we have had not just with you and with the irs, but with a lot of the other agencies would be resolved if we could go directly into court rather than having to go through the roadblock of the justice department. now that being said, i am very curious an how lois learner who is a member of the senior executive service and who
developed a reputation as a partisan when she was working for the federal election commission ended up getting to the irs and being put in the position that she was in. i know this happened before your time. i know you probably don't know why. but could you tell me, you know, what the process is of transferring ses personnel from one agency to another agency and who initiates that and who signs off on that? you know, aside from the member of the ses who is supposed to be transferred? >> you're right, i have no idea how that happened. when she arrived, as a general matter, at least at the irs, i can tell you if we have an opening, ses opening, we advertise it publicly. it will be open to both government executives within the irs and across the government and private sector executives who will then have to qualify to determine they meet the ses requirements. when they apply, there are is a
preliminary screening of the applications via panel. there is a separate group of senior executives that then interview the finalists and make a recommendation then to the commissioner on the basis of that review. that second panel is -- these are all career employees. the only political appointee is the commissioner and the chief counsel. that recommendation goes to, in our case right now, that group by the two deputy commissioners and the chief of staff. they interview them the three or four final panelists and the recommendation comes. >> i don't think it was a coincidence that lois learner left where she was from at the fec and end upped where she went to in the irs. you know, there had to be some kind of political design involved in that. and i think congress should look into whether there are political transfers. you know, the other thing, you know, i'm proud of the fact that
i'm conservative. i know you're not. i think that one of the things that all of us who work for the government are supposed to do is to ingender an increased public trust of government institutions which isn't going very well. now put yourself in my shoes. you know, somebody who represents p 715,000 people in wisconsin. how i do tell my conservative constituents that they should increase their trust in the irs and that what happened to a couple of my groups will never, ever happen again? thank you. >> tell them there have been six different investigations. the internal revenue service has taken every recommendation they have control over and implemented it. the ig reviewed the implementation of the ig's recommendation and said we have done a substantial progress, made additional recommendations for additional training before elections which we have taken. that we have created a risk magment operation and
organization in the agency where i've now talked to 22,000 irs employees in person and town halls and one of my pitches to them is everyone has to be a risk manager. everyone has to raise their hand if they think anything is not going the way it should. if there is a mistake or a problem so we can deal with it. i think can you tell them we're committed and i'm personally committed that that situation was intolerable and should never happen again. we continue to do. over a million audit this is year. i think the system won't work if people when they hear from us think that wonder who i talk to the wrong way? did i go to the wrong meeting? does anybody know that i belong to this organization? people should be comfortable that the irs process doesn't care who they are in person, what their political beliefs are, what organization they belong to, who they voted for. if they hear from us, it's something in their application or return and if somebody else
had that same question subject to resources, they would hear us from as well. the system will not work unless we can get taxpayers to understand. that and i understand, the reason i took this job was because i understand that the mistakes that were made, the intolerable operations were corrosive to public confidence in the agency. we touch virtually every american. 150 million individual taxpayers file us with. they need to be confident that they're going to be treated fairly no matter who they are. i'm committed to that. and your constituents have to know we're committed. the proof will be in the pudding. people have to see in our activities that we in fact treat everyone the same way. they're all treat faredly. that's our obligation. >> thank you. >> i recognize the gentleman from florida. >> whether is your term of office expire? >> my term expires i think november 9th or 12th next year. >> of 2017? >> yes. i made it clear, i serve -- even
with a fixed term, i serve at the pleasure of the president. so whoever the new president is can decide to make a change if they like. >> so you'll offer a resignation whoever comes in and you'll offer a step aside? >> i have a fixed term. so unless i were actually not -- i don't want to fill my term, i serve the president. >> i understand. that you say you serve at the pleasure, meaning if the president came to you and asked you to step aside you would. >> i would. >> but you're not going to offer to step aside unilaterally, correct? >> that's correct. >> now there's been talk about due process. for the record, we did have a hearing in this committee. i think it was in july. you were invited to come to that first hearing, correct? you chose not to. >> no, i explained to the chairman, i just come back from abroad. i got here the next day. i said i would be delighted to come any time. i've been delighted on relatively short notice to be here today. >> okay. now i want to look at your testimony today. there's been a lot of talk, i think justifiable about some of the things you've said over the
coursest investigation later turned out to be false. today you testified that the irs ended the use of bolo lists more than three years ago. that's your testimony, correct? >> that's my testimony. >> well how does that square with the d.c. circuit opinion where the irs made that exact same argument and the court rejected. they said, no, you have not ceased the conduct. you have chosen to suspend the u.s. of bolo lists which means you're free to attend, you're free to return to the offending conduct. that's what the court found. so for you to say you ended the list when in fact you suspended them, that's not just me being, you know, it in picky. that is a distinction that the court seized upon and justified in the ruling against the irs. shouldn't you have said you suspended the use of bolo list? >> the justice department has the litigation. that's what they provided. the ig reviewed this matter a year and a half ago and agreed we determine natured. i wrote a letter to all the
oversight committees saying it's clear, however you call it, termina terminated, suspended. >> it matters legally f you're suspending it to get through a case and then return it to, court thought that was important. >> yes. >> there is no document that says you end it or does it say you suspend? >> it ends. i'll be happy to share with the committee the instructions given to all people in the exempt organization decision with regard to this matter and those instructions went out three years ago and we'll share that with you. the other point -- >> the court rejected that. you agree with that. the court rejected that. the court found that irs has simply suspended the use of bolo lists but you have not proven to the court which that would have been the time to do it, that you will not return to the offending ways subsequent to the litigation? >> i can't speak for the justice department and litigation. all i can tell you is we provided all of the oversight committees with the neat we have committed and have terminated use of bolo lists.
the question about the three that were pending for 50 years, if you are involved with us and then you go to court, we don't continue to process the audit with a return. >> the court rejected that argument as plen mr. jordan sai. you tell people you're going to violate their rights and then if they seek litigation to get their rights, then you say we're going to continue to violate your rights until the case is over and the court thought that was unacceptable and i do, too. let me move on. you have admitted that the subpoenas that were issued for learner's e-mail that's the irs did not comply. there were tapes that were destroyed, correct? >> that's correct. i mean, we did supposed to produce evidence. we produced evidence that we v. >> i think you acknowledged that your testimony in 2014, did you testify falsely because you said "everything has been preserved. nothing has been destroyed." and, of course, as we've established in march just a few
months before that there were tapes that were destroyed containing pertinent e-mails. you also testified that day that you -- that irs confirmed that backup tapes no longer existed. i remember that exchange. i was sitting there. they drilled down you to. what does it mean by confirm. you said somebody went and checked. and, of course that, wasn't true. although the irs destroyed 422 backup tapes, the ig did find backup tapes that were still in existence at the time you made the statement. you also testified at your confirmation hearings that you believed in transparency and report problems as soon as you knew about them regarding the learner production. you acknowledged to day that you waited two months and that was a mistake. onest other things you said is the irs went to great lengths flord to provide congress with the material that it requested. do you remember making that statement? >> i do. >> is that false? did you go to great lengths to provide it? here's why i ask that. you never -- nobody in your organization ever went to the
mart inzburg west virginia warehouse where they put the backups. it's 76 miles from the district of clom yachlt you kblan how costly it is to provide information to congress in the past but that would have taken a tank of gas to get there and back. and, yet, the inspector general when they went there even though you said you went to great lengths, nobody from your organization had ever gone to retrieve any backup tapes. isn't that true? >> we went to great lengths to respond to the congressional request. >> great lengths did not involve getting in a car and driving 76 miles, asking for the backup tape and then bringing them to congress. that was a bridge too far for you. so let me -- let me just end with this. there's been disputes about did he order the tapes destroyed or whatever? i don't think that's eastbound the standard. obviously if you did that, that's a no-brainer. i believe justice story is right when he talked about impeachable
offenses being political offense that's grow out of personal misconduct or gross neglect. he said they must be examined upon very broad and comprehensive principles of public policy and duty. i think that irs had a duty to provide congress the information. the irs breeched the duty. i think you had a duty to display candor in front of congress. i think your false statements although you didn't intend them, had you investigated more, you would have known. i think it's really about breech of duty and about the gross negligence that's at issue here. i'm out of time and i yield back. >> the chair royces the gentleman from texas for mr. rat cliff for five minutes. >> commissioner, i listened to you today. i want to make sure that i'm summarizing the testimony that i heard from you and the things i heard you say today. i think you've been candid in your testimony today. i want to make sure i summarize what happened on your watch as the commissioner of the irs for
the last two years and nine months. so i think you've acknowledged there have been failures by the irs under your watch with respect to the retension and preservation of documents, correct? >> that's correct. >> and i think you've acknowledged that there have been failures by the irs under your watch are w. respect to production of documents. >> we produced all the documents. our failure was with the documents that we did not have. we produced, as i said, 1,300,000 documents. >> you acknowledged failures by the irs to testify accurately under oath specifically yourself on a number of occasions, correct? >> that's correct. i testified on the basis of what i knew. >> there is a difference between testifying truthfully and what you know. >> if i had known it and didn't testify about it, that would have been untruthful. i had close to 40 hearings.
i have always -- >> you told the ogr committee you would produce all of lois learner's subpoenaed e-mails. that wasn't true. >> we produced all the e-mails we had. >> that isn't my question. >> at that hearing we had a discussion about the fact that i can't produce e-mails that i don't have. >> and on june 20th when you said the irs preserved every e-mail, that wasn't true. >> that was actually i did not know it but that was not accurate. >> not true. of course, as congressman gowdy asked you, when you said nothing had been lost or destroyed, that was not true. >> that's right. i thought it was true at the time. >> pardon? >> in light of the failures, failures to retain documents, preserve documents, testify accurately, i would hope that you would appreciate why this is legitimate for folks to wonder if they should take you at your word that erasing the tapes and the destruction of evidence was accidental as you characterized it. >> you don't have to take my
word. that was the inspector general's results after a year of investigation. >> yeah, let me stop you there. you talked about that about how the department of justice and how the ig have investigated that and how they backed you up with respect to it being accidental. but the bad news for you commissioner is that being cleared by the department of justice in this administration unfortunately doesn't carry much weight with the american people anymore. not since the attorney general started handing out get out of jail free cards to obama administration officials like most of us hand out candy on halloween. but while we're on the subject, let me ask you this question. in the days before that investigation was closed by the department of justice, you didn't happen to have a clandestine but accidental meeting with the attorney general on a plane or a tarmac somewhere, did you? >> never. >> well, i hope can you appreciaty ask that. there is certainly a precedent for that tich thing happening. regardless of whether there was descental, let me concede to you or for purposes of your answer
that this was descent accidenta. it seems to me that you don't think there should be consequences as a result of that. you know, for ordinary americans, even if it's an descent, let's say someone gets in a car accident, if someone dies because of it, there are consequences. now someone might get charged with manslaughter or vehicular homicide or sued civilly for gross negligence ore negligence. the consequences may be criminal. they may be civil. but there will be consequences. and that's the way our justice system is set up. but for you folks in the irs, you want a different system and a different set of rules where one where you can say it was an accident, i'm sorry. just move on. and to that point, let me ask you. since you took office to restore confidence and in your words provide accountability and spent nearly $20 knoll do just that, who's been held accountable at the irs? >> as i noted, basic issue has
been the management mistakes made in terms of identifying people for review just on their names and all of those people are gone. >> hold on. we're talking about two different things. >> no, since i've been there. >> yeah, on your watch. >> i can explain that? i will tell you. on my watch, wenlded the bolo list. there is no evidence we're targeting new organizations. we have three we suspended. we're going to process. but i would note in terms of the overall record the ig spent a year and looking at tapes found 1,0 1,000 e-mails. we produced 1,300,000 pages. >> that's my question. my question is who has been held accountable? you mentioned you had 50 people advising you. advising you on your watch during your watch which you acknowledged there were failures to preserve. failures to retain. failures to testify truthfully. havive in the folks been terminated? has anyone been terminate ond your watch for those trans gregss? >> no one has made a transgression that i think is a
fireable offense. >> has anyone been demoted? >> i'm not asking for their names. has anyone been demoted? >> i know a few have left. >> that's not my question. >>, no one has been demoted. >> is anyone held accountable? >> i think that is right. we don't think anybody consciously or purposely did anything to interfere with the investigation. >> we'll just have to disagree on that. my time expired. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the jae ja from co -- gentleman from colorado for five minutes. commissioner, welcome. you've been here for 3 1/2 hours now. the lights are hot. i notice you have gone through your wear the. >> i have another half bottle left. i'm all right. >> g i heard about dehydration affecting people's judge ment. i want to make sure you are not dehydrated to day. >> thank you. >> and you don't have pneumonia? >> no. >> okay. i want to make sure. there is a lot of talk about due process. and i want to make sure that we have the same understanding of due process. you went to a great law school.
you worked for great law firm. you are well versed in the law and understand due process. i was a federal prosecutor. i work with special agents from the irs. when they presented a case to me for charging, i didn't have to talk to the defendant. i didn't have to reinterview the witnesses. the level of due process in a charging decision is simply the person charging making a best effort to determine whether there is guilt or not. you understand that, do you not? >> yes. that's why again i understand the process is if the committee wanted to charge me, they would go to the house, get a resolution passed authorizing the committee to proceed. >> right. you would be charged. you would be tried by the senate with the chief justice sitting and you would receive due process on the senate side. to say there is no due process -- >> my understanding is that is not true. if you look at how this committee conducted impeach ment proceed gdz historically, committee has held hearings. there have been witnesses. there have been the right to cross-examination. >> i understand that, but in a chargetion decision, the
committee's history is one thing. fwhut a charging decision, the level of due process is based on the judgement or the individual of the group trying not the trial. the trial has a whole other level of due process than the charging decision. to say you received no due process when you're testifying here and testified in ogv just not true. >> well, obviously there are grand jury proceedings where the charges presented to a grand jury that decides whether there is evidence. my understanding is -- >> so do we need a grand jury -- >> my understanding is the way the house is dealt with impeachment and the way this committee dealt with impeachment is the committee set a preliminary hearings. the committee makes a resolution to the house that the house passes authorizing the committee to proceed with a full investigation set of hearings and investigation and then the committee comes back to the floor of the house with a recommendation with the charge. the charge is not made directly to the house floor. the charge comes in response to
the judiciary committee having been authorized to start an investigation holding the investigation and move on. and then going back to the floor. >> we disagree. i want to move on. >> that's fine. >> you're familiar with title 44 united states code section 3103 which deals with resentension o records and the people that work with you are familiar with this also. >> the head of each federal agency, would you agree with me, the head of a federal agency. >> i certainly am. >> shall make and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation. you have a duty to preserve records that have documentation. is that your understanding according to the archives? >> according to the archives. >> okay. so that is the type of records that you have to maintain are essential transactions. >> the official records, right. >> you understand that lois learner's e-mails were essential
transactions of the agency. >> not all of her e-mails but awe chunk of them surely. some e-mails back and forth are not official records. >> okay. but her e-mails were important to congress to determine which were essential and which were not essential. nobody went through the e-mails before they were destroyed in west virginia to determine what is essential and what is not essential snch essential? >> exactly. >> so that is the statute. i just read you the element of the statute. as the head of the federal agency that you violated that statute? >> actually, to violate a criminal statute, you have to intend to violate that statute number one intended to violate any of the statutes. no one intended to obstruct. >> and this is not a criminal statute, sir. there is no krenl penalty associated with it. this is a statute that defines what records need to be archived and the duties of the head of the agency. you would agree with me that you violated those three elements as i describe them to you? >> no, i don't -- again, i think
you violate when it you consciously decide that we -- did we do it appropriately? was it perfect? the saens number we had an on going process with the national archives about -- we have an antiquated system about, making sure that we're capturing official documents and official records. >> you have now filibustered me out of time. but there are strict liability crimes where you doen't need to have the intent. i yield to the chairman. >> without objection, the gentleman is recognized for an dagsal minute if he'll yeed to the gentleman from ohio mr. jordan. >> yes. >> i thank the gentleman for yielding. these two guys down in mart inzburg, the midnight shift guys, were they employees of the irs or contracted to work with for the ir snchlt. >> they are gs 4 employees of the irs. >> 90,000 people work for the irs. is that accurate? >> we're down to 80,000. >> 80,000 people. of those 80,000, how many other people work the midnight shift?
>> i have no idea. >> is that -- when i think about government employees, i don't really associate other than our military working around the clock, i don't associate folks working the midnight shift. >> we have an lot of employees working the midnight shift. our systems have to be up and running 24 hours a day. >> all right. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> would the gentleman yield to me? >> i thank the gentleman for yielding. you testified today that you wanted -- you waited two months after finding out that backup media was recycled before you informed congress. >> that's not correct. >> what is correct? >> what is correct is i waited two months after i learned of lois learner's hard drive crash. i didn't learn about the erasure of the tapes until 2015, long after the hearings. >> okay. there are two sets of issues one is low he is liis learner's har
crash and the other is the erasure in mart inzburg until no one knew until 2015. i was advised there was a hard drive cash. i said we need to then look at everybody who communicated with miss learner in that time. see how many of the e-mails we can capture. that's how we captured 24,000 e-mails from that time period. as sid, there was no hearing in between times. but as -- in retrospect, i should have actually advised the congress why we were doing that search. >> all right. thank you very much. >> this concludes today's hearing. commissioner, you have -- thank you for your time. we thank you for attending. without objection, all members will have five legislative days to submit additional written questions to you or additional materials for the record.
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